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Bean Nighe

by Micha F. Lindemans
The Bean Nighe, the Washer at the Fords, is the Scottish version of the Irish Bean Sidhe (Banshee). She wanders near deserted streams where she washes the blood from the grave-clothes of those who are about to die. It is said that Bean Nighe are the spirits of women who died giving birth and are doomed to do this work until the day their lives would have normally ended.

A Bean Nighe is thought to have one nostril, one big protruding tooth, webbed feet and long hanging breasts. A mortal who is bold enough to sneak up to her while she is washing and suck her breast can claim to be her foster-child. The mortal can then gain a wish from her.

The Washer of the Fords is sometimes known under the generic name of ban nighechain (little washerwoman) or nigheag na h-ath (little washer at the ford).


Article details:

  • Pronunciation:
    ben-nee'-yeh

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