by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
So old a Munster family as the Bailys, of Lough Guir, could not fail
to have their attendant banshee. Everyone attached to the family knew
this well, and could cite evidences of that unearthly distinction. I
heard Miss Baily relate the only experience she had personally had of
that wild spiritual sympathy.
She said that, being then young, she and Miss Susan undertook a long
attendance upon the sick bed of their sister, Miss Kitty, whom I have
heard remembered among her contemporaries as the merriest and most
entertaining of human beings. This light-hearted young lady was dying
of consumption. The sad duties of such attendance being divided among
many sisters, as there then were, the night watches devolved upon the
two ladies I have named: I think, as being the eldest.
It is not improbable that these long and melancholy vigils, lowering
the spirits and exciting the nervous system, prepared them for
illusions. At all events, one night at dead of night, Miss Baily and
her sister, sitting in the dying lady's room, heard such sweet and
melancholy music as they had never heard before. It seemed to them
like distant cathedral music. The room of the dying girl had its
windows toward the yard, and the old castle stood near, and full in
sight. The music was not in the house, but seemed to come from the
yard, or beyond it. Miss Anne Baily took a candle, and went down the
back stairs. She opened the back door, and, standing there, heard the
same faint but solemn harmony, and could not tell whether it most
resembled the distant music of instruments, or a choir of voices. It
seemed to come through the windows of the old castle, high in the
air. But when she approached the tower, the music, she thought, came
from above the house, at the other side of the yard; and thus
perplexed, and at last frightened, she returned.
This aerial music both she and her sister, Miss Susan Baily, avowed
that they distinctly heard, and for a long time. Of the fact she was
clear, and she spoke of it with great awe.