Banshee or 'Bean-sidhe' is Irish for fairy woman. Her sharp, cries and wails are also called 'keening'. The English word 'Keen' is from the Irish 'Caoineadh' meaning lament.
There is no harm or evil in her mere presence, unless she is seen in the act of crying; but this is a fatal sign. The wail of a banshee pierces the night, it's notes rising and falling like the waves of the sea, it always announces a mortal's death. She is solitary woman fairy, mourning and forewarning those only of the best families in Ireland, those with most ancient Celtic lineages. Those whose names begin with 'Mac/Mc' or 'O', whose origin dates from the time of the Irish heroes. The banshee loves the old mortal families with a fierce and unearthly caring.
When a member of the beloved race is dying, she paces the dark hills about his house. She sharply contrasts against the night's blackness, her white figure emerges with silver-grey hair streaming to the ground and a grey-white cloak of a cobweb texture clinging to her tall thin body. Her face is pale, her eyes red with centuries of crying. But this is not the only way that the banshee appears, at other times she is seen as a beautiful young girl, with long, red-golden hair, and wearing a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, broached with gold, after the Irish fashion. Or she will appear shrouded and muffled in a dark, mist-like cloak.
White Lady of Sorrow some people name her, and Lady of Death. She is the Woman of Peace and the Spirit of the Air. For despite her wailing, she is somehow graced with a manner of peace.
Unseen, banshees attend the funerals of the beloved dead. Although, sometimes she can be heard wailing, her voice blending in with the mournful cries of others.
Each banshee has her own mortal family. Out of love she follows the old race across the ocean to distant lands. Her wails or keen can be heard in America and England, wherever the true Irish have settled. But they never forget their blood ties; and neither does she.