1891 (pre-): The Stolen Comb

The Legend:

Sometime previous to 1891, when Patrick Bardan published an account of it, a youth had the temerity to steal a comb from a banshee. Banshees are an Irish entity that is said to sing laments for people before they die; and for the crime of stealing the banshee's comb the youth was haunted and driven by her phantom keening and wailing until he was almost dead... at which time she gave him the opportunity to return the comb.

Under Investigation & Other News of Combs

        This particular account is currently listed as an 'Anomaly', but may very well just be a legend. Given the way it was presented in Bardan's book, there is an implication that the author was told this account as a true story... but it is not stated to be such. Bardan does seem to have believed in the existence of banshees, having stated "the most authentic account I have heard describes her as of dwarfish stature, golden hair, dressed in red skirt, and devoid of feet."

        The story of the youth and the comb above likely inspired the author of Darby O'Gill and the Good People [1903] to include an episode in which Darby O'Gill finds the end part of a comb that later turns out to belong to a banshee. In her attempts to locate the missing piece, the phantom woman summons up a host of ghosts from the graveyard to sweep through the countryside and towns looking for it! If you want to know how Darby O'Gill escapes, well... read the book!

        In turn, either the older legend or good ol' Darby O'Gill might be responsible for another addition to banshee legends; I have a sister-in-law who remembers being warned by her grandmother to never pick up a strange comb lying on the ground, because a banshee might be waiting to spirit away the fool who touches it!

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