The Banshee Visits

Imagine being all of five and living a world away from Ireland when you have an encounter with the Banshee.

Imagine being told by your Grandfather that it was pointless to tell anyone, since in the United States no one respected the old ways or recognized them anymore.

I remember it clearly.

My Aunt was suffering from breast cancer, a young thirty-nine, with my Mom, who was a nurse, caring for her. My Grandfather, their father, was living with us at the time. For some reason he and I were at our house when Mom and Dad were at my Aunt’s. I suspect it’s because nobody expected my aunt to die so suddenly.

colouring pencils]

The other kids were out in the street playing ball in the hot summer sun, but Grandpa and I were together in the shadowy house. I don’t know what I was doing. Drawing, I think, on the chipped and scarred coffee table that had been roundly abused by the seven kids in the house.

It was really quiet. I do remember that, and my Grandpa was sitting in my dad’s comfortable chair doing a crossword puzzle in the daily paper. We’d been listening to the shrill voices of siblings and neighborhood kids all morning, but it seemed that they’d moved farther down the street, because I remember a hushed kind of silence.

Suddenly I heard a sound I still can’t describe; a keening, yes, but the most beautiful, hair-lifting cry I think I’ll ever hear.

Outside, up, as if it hovered high over the front porch. fold newspaper

I looked up.

My Grandpa froze where he sat.

Slowly he set down his newspaper and rose, pausing, as if by dragging his feet he could prevent the inevitable.

Then he walked to the front window and pulled the curtains aside.

The keening came again, like a high wind or one of the old ladies who showed up at the family funerals, except indescribably more beautiful and haunting.

I sat where I was, suddenly unsure what to do. My Grandpa knew. He looked out, looked up, as if something hovered in the bright white sky.

“She’s gone,” he said, and there were tears in his voice.

Quietly he let the curtains fall back into place, and for a while just stood there, his head down.

curtain window

“What was that, Grandpa?” I asked.

He shook his head, never looking for me.

“It was the Banshee.”

He walked back to his chair and sat down.

He picked the paper up that he’d carefully folded to exhibit the crossword puzzle, but he didn’t look at it. He just held it.

I looked out toward where the voice had come from. I knew what banshees were. I’d just seen ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’ not long before, and the Banshee in the movie was a terrifying swirl of flowing black robes and hair. Her voice, though, had been terrifying.

This hadn’t terrified me. Even so, I didn’t have to courage to get up and walk to the window to look out. I just went back to coloring.

Just then my Mom called. My Aunt had just died. My Mother didn’t seem surprised that my Grandpa already knew.

I never asked my Mother about what I heard. I didn’t tell anybody until only about ten years ago when I finally discovered the Irish part of our family who had been able to stay in Ireland.

“Of course,” my cousin said when I told her. “The Banshee follows our clan.”

I’ve never heard her again.

 Eileen – United States.

sunset

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Encounter with Scottish Forest Faerie

I was living in my car at this time, my partner lived in his. We both had one dog each with us, but we were freezing cold and struggling to cope with the elements.

We were temporarily homeless and had nowhere else to go. On this particular night we were on the beach at Oban.

oban-town-in-scotland
Oban, Scotland.

The wind was strong and it was below freezing. My partner suggested we go to the forest. It was a place he often camped in, and he had left a small tent in a secret location there, it was his emergency home.

I agreed to spend the night in the tent, because I needed to lay down flat, and my car was too small to sleep in and relax.scot forest logs

The forest itself was on an incline. The ground was very muddy and slippery. We only had the moonlight to help us navigate our way up through the trees. I had to climb over fallen trees and crawl under the low laying ones. I was not in a good mood.

We found the tent and it was in a state of disrepair. The front zip had broken and the inner bedroom compartment zip only went down half way. So this made the tent colder than usual.

I complained constantly about our plight, while the wind whistled round the tent and the cold froze my fingers and toes.

maple puddle

I bought a mat and a sleeping bag to lay on, but as soon as I got in the sleeping bag, that is when the rain started. It poured down and soon the tent floor was soaking, which in turn saturated my sleeping bag. By now, I was a snivelling wreck.

I just sat crying and feeling sorry for myself suddenly, two men started talking to each other at the back of the tent. I could hear them as clear as anything. They sounded like they were having a normal day to day chat but I could not make out any of their words, even though I felt it was familiar, like English.

The chat seem to last some time, possibly about half an hour. During this time I tried to think of any possible reason why, or how, anyone had found this actual spot, that was well hidden from the public, and why they should be stood chatting in a storm.

The chat ended. After a few moments I heard the sound of heavy foot prints walk around the tent, crunching sticks under foot. My heart was pounding in fear, because we were so vulnerable.

Suddenly something hit the tent, it hit it so hard the canvas came inwards towards me. This happened 3 times. It was as if someone was using a heavy stick to strike the tent. My heart was beating so fast, I could barely speak. The dogs started barking and jumping around. Then silence.

I was now so distressed I was on my knees rocking backwards and forwards. I hadn’t slept for nights, and I was exhausted. I closed my eyes and tried to lull myself to sleep.

tent in rain

That is when I heard the music. It was coming from further up the forest. There was no housing up there, or anywhere a band could play. Yet, it sounded like a band was starting. I heard a rich, male voice start to sing out in to the wind. I could not make out the words, but he sounded like a young man.

violin

The violins sounded out, yet they were not violins. The instruments where familiar, yet nothing I had heard of in my day to day life.

The music got louder and louder and it was like a party was starting. I heard lots of voices start to join in. It gave me comfort, but it intrigued me so much, because I wanted to know how and why anyone would want to party in a storm, in the middle of winter, in a cold, muddy forest. It made no sense.

I still had my eyes closed, but now I “saw” all these faces coming towards me, mocking me, teasing me, trying to scare me. Some were hideous and frightening, some human like and handsome. The one I recall the most was the young man. I somehow linked his face to the voice that was singing. He had a mop of dark curly hair and beautiful green eyes, he looked Irish to me, he was the one with the cheeky smile.

I was so infuriated by my plight that I had no time for fear now. So the scary faces that growled at me, I swore at, and told them to back off. Their expressions changed. Some looked bemused, one looked shocked. Then suddenly, it was if they thought “who the hell is this woman?”, and they softened up towards me. I honestly felt like they came to ward me off, and some came to welcome me, but in the end, it was like a general acceptance. I really believed at this point that I was in THEIR forest, and that they had decided I could stay.

I spoke in my mind to the faces and their expressions is where I got their answers. I asked them if I should leave my partner, because I blamed him for out plight, and one laughed, the other looked confused, and the other face rolled its eyes! In other words, “it was none of their business!”

So they disappeared. That is when the wind picked up, and started to whistle through the trees. I could not believe what I was hearing, it was like the trees where singing! It was so beautiful, it hypnotised me. I felt like I should leave the tent and follow the sound, and go and join the fairies, but at this point, my partner told me to stay inside. It was like I was been lulled out of the tent.

I stayed put and then suddenly the wind died down, then the rain stopped.

That is when the ball of light came bouncing in to the tent. It was like a purple, lit up bouncy ball. It came in and knocked things over. There was no explanation for what it was. The dogs went insane and started barking at it at running towards it. I was sat opened mouthed in absolute wonder.

It bounced out of the tent and disappeared.

That is when I fell asleep.

The next morning I asked my partner if he saw or heard anything, to which he replied, “Congratulations Fallbrook, you met the fairies”.

rainbow after storm

We got a job soon after and moved into a park. During the coming winter when the season ended, they came back to see me twice. Both times they struck the caravan three times! I knew it was them. I called out “hello”.

I believe the fairies are like people. You get the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think they saw my distress, and some wanted to help me, while others wanted to scare me out of their forest, but they came around because I am strong spirited. I see them as my friends.

I try to protect the forest, because I believe it is their home. I also think that when I go to other places on the west coast of Scotland, they recognise me.

They are hidden, but real. I love them. I hope to meet them again and talk to them. I just hope that my circumstances are nicer than the last time.

I did meet them again, but that is another story.

I swear my story is true. I really did see them, and hear them. My dogs saw them. They see us, but it is hard for us to see them. I believe that you need the second sight to see them.

Kelly Fallbrook – Scotland.

Beware the Faerie Ring

Now I believe in the Good People and my family know ways of dealing with them and it’s a lucky thing too.

It was May last, 2018, my boyfriend and I were cycling the track through a place called the Black Valley in County Kerry. It sounds gloomy but really it’s a lovely place. It was a bright morning and we set out early, hoping to beat the weather coming in later that day.

bike under treeSo anyway, we’d been riding only about 30 minutes when I saw a lovely painted horse there, stood beneath a fairy tree looking at us, and I mean staring at us. Hard like.

If you don’t know what a fairy tree is I’ll tell you, it’s a lone hawthorn tree sitting in the middle of a field all by itself. And so it was this fairy tree with the horse stood under.

I don’t know what it was about this horse, but I felt like it was calling me or something, so I told my boyfriend to stop and we hopped off our bikes, climbed the stone wall and walked over to it.

As we got closer, I could see the horse was shattered, exhausted like. With eyes beseeching or something but not moving, standing right still. And then I saw why, surrounding the horse, about a yard from his hooves, was a neat circle of mushrooms.

My boyfriend reached his arm out to pat the horse and I smacked it down and said “Don’t go putting your arm in a feckin fairy ring” so I said.

mushrooms

I thought a minute then decided it best to call me Mam and ask her. So I did and she told me what to do.

With my boyfriend holding my left arm, I stood close to the outside of the mushroom ring and leaned my right arm into the ring and grabbed the mane of the horse, which was neatly plaited, and pulled it out. I’d like to tell you it was a gentle tug but the Good People don’t give up their mischief easy so it was more of a yank.

The horse stumbled when it got out of the ring and then took off. I’m sure he was grateful, although he didn’t stick around to say so.horse painted

I knew we’d used up all our luck that day so we turned around and rode home. Spent the rest of the day on the couch with Netflix!

We went back the next weekend to check on the horse and he looked grand. He was well away from the fairy tree mind!

But we really were lucky, especially being it was May. Without my boyfriend there to hold one of my arms I wouldn’t think of reaching into that fairy ring for fear of never getting out myself.

I’d like to think the Good People were just having some fun with the horse. Dancing and singing all night long and plaiting its mane and all, I surely hope they meant it no harm, for they do have a care for animals but you can never be sure.

My advice to anyone spotting a fairy ring is to stay well away, never step in it, no matter what. Even if there is a pile of coins or a diamond ring or anything else sat in the middle of the ring, keep walking, don’t stop and don’t be tempted.

And best stay clear of the fairy trees too, just leave them be and you should have no trouble.

Emily – County Kerry.

Grandfather’s Secret Weapon

My Grandfather died when I was 14, so that was in 1956. I can still remember the day my Father and I spent at his cottage, sorting out his few personal belongings.

He had some mad stuff I wouldn’t mention, but there was one thing I stumbled across which you might find interesting.

flask (2)

I was folding his old thick coat, the one he wore everyday, and indeed the one he passed in, and in the inner pocket I found two small flasks.

One was used for whiskey, the other for holy water.

Of course, in those days everybody walked everywhere and so it was for my Grandfather but he did not venture out unarmed.

He was a belt n’buckles man” my Father said, “cautious if you get my meaning. If he was out walking, day or night, he had one flask to save himself from the bitter cold, the other to save himself from the Good Folk”.

Ian – Belfast

Dream of an Irish Death

Last year, I had a dream and I remember it so well it might as well have been just last night. In fact I will never forget it.

So, I was walking through a creepy cemetery on a path of small, crunchy stones. The path was winding and there were headstones everywhere on either side of me. And they were in no order, just seemingly random.

cemetery- (2)

It was quite dark when I reached the end of the path, and there stood a shiny new headstone with a fresh pile of earth piled high and covered in flowers.

I looked at the headstone and it read:

‘Patricia Kelly.

Born April 1958 – Died Dec 2018.

Cavan, Ireland.

Gone too soon.’

I suddenly realized a woman was standing next to me. She wore all black, a long flowing heavy gown and a black veil over her face.

I looked at her face and found it was her, my aunt, Pat Kelly. Her face was sallow but she was smiling. I woke with a start and got up to get some water and found my Mother sitting at the kitchen bar crying. She just got word that her sister (my aunt) Patricia Kelly had died in a car accident near her home in Cavan.

I don’t know if this is strictly related to the Good People but once I got past the shock of it, I felt the dream had been a message. Aunt Pat was always a great believer in the Good People.

Jessica – Washington D.C.

The Portrush Selkie

Thank you for your interest in my Father’s story. I’ll just explain how I came to have it.

My Father was a traveling man, he was known as The Grey. My Mother was a settled woman. They both tried each other’s way of living but neither could manage it for more than a few months at a time. So, when I was around 6 years old, Mother and I went our own way, settling in Cornwall with her family while Father took to the road. We saw him from time to time, but he rarely came this far south.

A few months ago, a traveling family known to us paid a visit with the sad news my Father had died. They gave us his few belongings and I was surprised to find Father had been writing an account of his life. In mind, I think, to publish. It would have been a colorful read, and there are several tales of him crossing paths with the Little People.

There is one in particular I want to share with you because it seems to be one Faerie rarely mentioned when discussing the Little People.

Well I’ll give you Father’s story exactly as he had it drafted in his notes. Of course, he didn’t write it himself, a friend would have helped him with that, but it sounds like his voice good enough.

Anyway, you are welcome to share his words. Who know, one day I might make a book of his notes.

John – Cornwall

*

The year was 1966. I spent the good part of the summer and autumn working out of a pub there in Portrush (Northern Ireland). It is a fishing town ye know, and me regulars were fishing men. Twas a rough sort of place, not a place for tourists if ye get me meaning. Well i ran the bar and broke up the fights, but there weren’t many of them anyway. The job paid, and left me days to free and that suited me well enough.

I’m not one for going out on the sea meself, I prefer me feet on the ground, but often turned me ear toward the talk of the fishing men, for they were never short of a line or two.

boats-rope (2)

Well I heard manys the tale over that stained bar, and most I couldnae repeat for fear of of offending some one or another, then there are those I have long forgotten altogether, but a few I remember right well and are worth the repeating.

Ye see, from time to time, the fishing men would turn their talk to the woman of the water who dwelled at Portrush Head out there. The Selkie.

selkie freeimages (3)

One day, I heard this between two fishing men…

“I saw Herself today”

“Ah, ye did”

“She turned me round well enough”

“She turned ye round, aye she did”

“Just clear o’the harbour, She crossed me bow 3 times there”

“Not wanting ye to see open water, so?”

“Aye”

“After I’d gone out was it?”

“Aye ye were in the deep by then”

“Ye turned yerself back then”

“Aye, that I did”

I’d need both me hands to count the times I heard this conversation. The fishing men were familiar with Selkie and held that if She crossed yer path, that is yer bow, 3 times it meant ‘turn yer boat around and get yer feet on dry land’.

Twas a warning of sorts. Not that they feared Herself, not a jot of that, no, they were fond of Herself, but believed She knew if bad luck would befall them in the deep water and so at every corner, did heed her warning and stay dry that day.

They would only speak of Herself among each other mind, only among the fishing men. If a brickie or a farming man walked in the door they’d shut up quick shot. But they didn’t seem to mind me listening in, sure wasn’t I pouring their drinks anyway.

They said other things about Her too, that if ye caught Her playful she would come alongside the boat and squeal in delight as She swam through the wash, but not any boat. She had her favorites.

There were a handful o’boats out of Portrush She had no regard for at all. It was said if She saw a fishing boat take more than their share from the sea, or creatures from the water that were too small for taking, well bad luck would follow them until such time her temper cooled.

There was this one day, the fishing men came in early. They’d been drinking for hours before I got to the pub meself. All the boats had gone out that morning and why wouldn’t they? It was a clear, bright morning as I remember it meself. No sign of a Selkie warning. But not an hour out to sea, Herself appears, singing a loud, wailing song byside each boat before swimming swift onto the next.

Well, some took heed, those fellas telling the story o’course, and turned for safety of the harbor. Others couldnae see the warning for the coin ye see, and ignored Her. Didn’t a mighty storm blow up in the same hour and smash one of the boats to bits. The others who ignored Her made it back to safety of harbor but with boats battered for their trouble.

Three dead so they told me, and wishing it weren’t so with every jar.

“She told em”menacing-clouds-1312090 (2)

“She did that”

“She could do no more”

“She could not”

“They know, the fairy folk…”

“Aye, they know well enough”

Well there was a great sadness for a time and the fishing men didnae mention Selkie for weeks after. I asked em one night, how was Herself and I tell ye, it were like getting teeth pulled, getting them to talk.

“She hasnae come by, since the storm”

“But we’ve heard Her”

“Aye, we’ve heard Her well enough, singing from yonder rocks”

“Broken hearted She sounds”

“None can say they don’t care for us, the fairy folk”

“None who know, can say that”

I cannae say if those fellas told their families about Selkie, and how She took care of the fishing folk, but about a week after that they were back chatting about Her again. She was out with the boats, swimming byside and having a lark.

And their spirits were lifted. They were fond of Her and no doubt.

The Grey.

 

 

 

An Attempted Abduction?

It was late in the afternoon in a small town in the Cascadian Mountain range in 2010.

I suddenly had a strong whim to go to a park I’ve only passed by once. In that small, safe town, following my whims often lead me to some beautiful places and was a fun way to occupy my time.

This whim was very strong though, I felt like someone was waiting for me. Honestly, I thought it was my professor– and my encounter would help my studies. It was freezing out and a mile and a half walk away.

But– why not! I put on my boots and coat and head out. It was a new moon that night– but I forgot to bring a flashlight. In that rural town– it would be blinding-dark on a night of a new-moon. I cursed this mistake 20 minutes into my walk.

sunsets-freeimages

I get there while the sun was still pretty well up in the sky and I’m drawn to this tree. I don’t understand it, but I go with it. So I wait by the tree– and out from in the top of this tree appears this black cat.

It jumps down and sits in front of me very regally. It meows as if it’s conversing with me and then runs off down a deer path in the park . It comes back up. Sits regally. Meows very demanding-like and…

… runs down the path. This repeats 4 times until I decide “ok I’m following this cat!” and I follow this cat down this path which was unusually nice but obviously not-officially maintained by the town.

The cat and I both hopped stones over the river and up quite a ways— I’m getting quite nervous at this point! It’s going to be very dark soon! Finally- we arrive in this door way that was built into the mountain.

Like a tiny 3-foot stone entry way into the mountain with a lovely wooden door hinged upon it. There was a small sliver of one of the door’s boards missing from the bottom and the cat jumped thru it- jumped out, jumped in, jumped out. It meowed- it wanted me to go inside.

cat-eyes-free images (2)

 

The sun was setting— the rocks over the river– and now into this dark doorway without a flash light?

Cat, I’m sorry I’ll come back tomorrow” I told the cat- honestly quite scared.

The whole thing is over-worldly and my guts and bones are telling me to not open that door.

I turned my back and the cat meowed and meowed and meowed at me. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning!!” I promised the cat. I used the last few inches of the light in the sky to see my way back to the maintained path that had lights in the park.

I was overwhelmed— I went home and couldn’t relax. I woke up before sunrise unable to rest and as soon as dawn broke I made my way back to the park– down the deer path, over the river– and there I kid you freaking not:

The entire doorway was succumbed to dead thorns.

The door that was previous properly hinged was on the floor by the sheer strength of these dead thorns. The ENTIRE door way was chalked full of these dead thorns, and it grew out out of the door-way and even surpassed the door. Also the door wasn’t all cute and lovely anymore and it looked like it had laid there for a several years.

I cannot explain this logically for the life of me. The strength of a plant to knock a door off it’s hinges wouldn’t have even been able to die in a mere night.

I previously thought I missed out on an Alice in Wonderland kinda experience but now I’m curious if I was almost adult-napped by fairies.

Skuttle Star – U.S.A

Illustration
Illustration by Skuttle Star.