An artist's impression of a banshee.

Banshees are female ghosts in Irish mythology and folklore. They are symbols of impending death.

According to tradition, on the eve of a battle, banshees can be found at streams washing blood-stained clothes. The clothes that they wash are ghostly replicas of the clothes of people who will die in the following day's fight. If anybody who is to take part in the next day's battle passes by, the bansheee may take pleasure in showing him that she is washing his bloodied clothes, letting the man know that he is doomed.

Irish folklore says that banshees may be found standing alone in isolated spots, crying noisily and using their long hair to dry their tears. Seeing a weeping banshee is said to be a sign that somebody in the family of the witness will die soon. Some versions of the legend say that banshees only cry when people from the older families of Ireland, those whose surnames begin with O', Mc or Mac, are about to die.

In horror movies and other forms of modern fiction, banshees are best known for their wailing screech, which can be fatal to anyone who hears it. However, reliable ear protection, such as earmuffs, can be provide protection from a banshee's scream.

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