Banshee by Ken McGrath

This is a true story.

When I was ten years old, growing up in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, a banshee haunted my town.

Thurles back then had a population of seven and a half thousand. It was a good-sized country town, bustling and alive. It’s where my story, “The Astronaut’s Ghost,” is set.

This was at the very start of the ‘90s. The Celtic Tiger housing boom had yet to take hold, so we weren’t used to seeing cranes and building sites eating up all the green spaces around the country, to spit out housing estates.

There was some land, a few fields, tucked into a big V, between the two big long entranceways that led up to the Presentation Convent School’s grounds. A row of established houses, pubs and shops closed off the triangle at the base.

The diggers went in, but I didn’t really think about it. I was ten, all I cared about were Transformer comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons.

Then the banshee came. Every, single, night.

Word went around school quickly, especially from the boys who lived near where the building work was going on. They said that you’d wake up in the dead hours to hear her wailing, out there in the dark.

Parents told our scared little brothers and sisters there was no such thing, but it was obvious to us what had happened. We’d seen it in tv shows and movies, read it in books, the greedy adults had gone in carelessly and disturbed something ancient.

There must have been a fairy tree in one of the fields, but instead of preserving it those idiots had just driven a digger right over it. The banshee was obviously sent to get revenge.

One of the lads, who lived near the site, said that when it got dark you’d see builders going in with torches to patrol.

Thurles may not be a hot bed of supernatural activity or paranormal events, but you’ve got the Devil’s Bit Mountain, visible on the horizon about 15km outside of town, with its distinctive dip. The dip, everyone knew, came about when the Devil himself had taken a bite out of the mountain one time.

That poor Devil though, he broke his tooth, and in anger spat the chunk of rock out across the valley where it landed near Cashel. And there it stood, a big hulking rock in the middle of nowhere, that years later people carved a castle into, the Rock of Cashel.

Of course, in school at this time, we were learning all sorts of smart things like geography and how glaciers from the last Ice Age moved through the land, cutting holes in mountains and depositing rocks in random places and how the stone in the Devil’s Bit was a different type to that in the Rock of Cashel. But who believes that?

So, when our parents told us that an elderly man, disgruntled about the construction work, had been caught by some builders in the site making ghostly sounds, of course we knew what had really happened, cause that’s all a bit too Scooby Doo, isn’t it?

The banshee did stop being heard after that, but I’m sure if I was to go look up the obituaries from that time I’d find out what really happened.



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Originally from Thurles, County Tipperary, Ken McGrath now lives in an upside house in Dublin, Ireland with his wife. His fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Cirsova Magazine, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Liquid Imagination Magazine and The Arcanist among others. He has stories coming out in various avenues over the coming months.


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Featured Photo Credit (c) “The Banshee Calls All to Follow” by Rathsi


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