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The Lost Families of Stratherrick, Strathnairn, and Dunmaglass, Inverness-shire, Scotland

The MacTavish Banshee


Quoted from “A Country Called Stratherrick” by Alan Lawson – Contributed by Rhona 

In Stratherrick, there was a tradition that when a member of the MacTavish family, Migovie, was about to die, a fairy woman, a banshee, bean sith—was to be heard wailing and shrieking amount the trees around the house.  The strange thing was that this was heard by all but the person about to die.

In the mid-19th century when one might think such beliefs were disappearing, the agent of the Commercial Bank in Inverness, a MacTavish, had to go to London for a cancer operation, Before doing so he went with his cousin, Sandy MacTavish, solicitor and town clerk, who was one of the Migovie family, to visit relatives there.  With them was also a nephew, who was to accompany him to London.  In the evening, suddenly, weird and mournful cries were heard and someone said, “there is the banshee”.  All heard the sounds but the down to earth banker and his nephew.

To die under the surgeons knife was not uncommon at the period and this could be dismissed as a coincidence, but not long afterwards, the nephew also died.  And these two alone had not heard the wailings.  What were these?  The mournful calling for some melancholy owl or the unnerving cries of a vixen, distorted by the wind among the trees – or the banshee?