"hollering like a banshee"

The Banshee, from the Irish bean sídhe ("woman of the síde" or "woman of the fairy mounds"), is a female spirit in Irish mythology, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the Otherworld.  She can take on a variety of guises. Most often she appears as an ugly, frightening hag, but she can also be a stunningly beautiful woman of any age, or a washer-woman seen washing the blood-stained clothes or armour of those who are about to die.

Her mourning call is heard, usually at night, when someone is about to die. It is variously described as piercing enough to shatter glass, or low, pleasant singing, or a thin, screeching sound. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seer or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl.

The banshee may also appear in animal form as a Hooded Crow, stoat, hare or weasel - animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.