From what I can tell from research, Banshees are sometimes hideous, sometimes beautiful, sometimes young, sometimes old. The one constant in their existence is that they are always female. Oh, and that they always wail you to death if you’ve ticked them off.
Banshees have existed in Irish lore since ancient times. In 1437, King James of Scotland was approached by an Irish seer who was later identified as a Banshee. She foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. There are records of several prophets believed to be incarnate Banshees attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings.
At times, Mary Boland actually wonders if she might be a Banshee. She has a fearful temper and will fight to the death if someone she loves is threatened. Also, according to legend, Banshees emanate one of four great houses—the O’Gradys, O’Neills, O’Briens, and O’Longs. Mary Boland knows her maternal grandmother was an O’Brien.
Or was she, like most women, a kind and benevolent Goddess who, when provoked, could turn into a frightening virago? When you read Shanty Gold, you be the judge.