The story of the Reverend Charles Bunworth and the Banshee took place in Buttevant, County Cork, Ireland in the eighteenth century. The Reverend was a much respected man in the area and admired as an accomplished harpist. When he became ill local people became concerned. This was a concern that was heightened, not by the immediate prognosis of his illness, which was not thought to be terminal, but the strange events that took place in the area prior to his demise.
A servant of the household reported to the concerned family of Reverend Bunworth that he had heard the wailing of a banshee. He described how the woman had wailed and moaned and clapped her hands in despair, repeating the Reverend’s name. Local people knew that this could only mean one thing. For the banshee was known to all as the lone female figure whose cries of despair herald an impending death.
The Irish people knew her to be the Bean Si (Banshee) also known in other parts of the Gaelic world. Seen as a messenger from the Otherworld, which is both the home of the gods and realm of the dead. The banshee can take many forms and she can be old, young beautiful or ugly. She is often heard but not seen and her lonesome cry instils fear into those that hear it.
The family of Reverend Bunworth dismissed the talk of the servant as mere superstition. For the Reverend’s health appeared to be improving. However, his condition declined and on the night before his death events took a further turn. Reverend Bunworth had been moved downstairs to sleep. Outside of his room moaning and clapping was heard. When going outside to investigate, it was found that a rose bush close to the window had been partially dislodged. There was no sign of any humans that could have made the noises or dislodged the bush. Those who had remained inside the house once again heard the sound of moaning and clapping.
As the night wore on the Reverend's health worsened and by the time that dawn broke he had expired. As, many said, had been predicted by the arrival of the banshee.
The illustration of the Bunworth Banshee by W.H. Brooke is taken from the book Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, by Thomas Crofton Crocker, published 1825.