Legendary Creatures

Bean-Nighe

(ben-neeya)  She occurs both in Highland and Irish tradition as one of the variants of the Banshee. The Washing women is the type of Banshee who haunts the lonely streams of Scotland and Ireland. Washing the blood-stained garments of those about to die. She is similar to the Bean-Sidhe in that she also foretells death. It is said that these spirits are the ghosts of women who died in childbirth and that they are fated to perform their task until the day when they would have normally died.

The name and characteristics vary in different localities. She is small and generally dressed in green, and has red webbed feet. The Highland Banshee, like the other fairies, has some physical defects. She has only one nostril, a large protruding front tooth
and long hanging breasts.  She portends evil, but if anyone who sees her before she sees him gets between her and the water she will grant him three wishes. She will answer three questions, but she asks three questions again, which must be answered truly. Anyone bold enough to seize one of her hanging breasts and suck it may claim that he is her foster-child and she will be favourable to him.

But the Caointeach of Islay, which is the same as the Bean-Nighe, is fiercer and more formidable. If anyone interrupts her she strikes at his legs with her wet linen and often he loses the use of his limbs. Is is said that the bean-nighe are the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth and must perform their task until the natural destined time of their death comes. The bean-nighe, sometimes called the Little Washer By The Ford, chiefly haunt the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, but Peter Buchan collected a washer story in Banffshire.