Reverend Charles Bunworth was rector of
Buttevant, in the county of Cork, about the
middle of the last century. He was a man of
unaffected piety, and of sound learning; pure in
heart, and benevolent in intention. By the rich
he was respected, and by the poor beloved; nor
did a difference of creed prevent their looking
up to "the minister" (so was Mr.
Bunworth called by them) in matters of difficulty
and in seasons of distress, confident of
receiving from him the advice andassistance that
a father would afford to his children.
was the friend and the benefactor of the
surrounding country to him, from the neighbouring
town of Newmarket, came both Curranand Yelverton
for advice and instruction, previous to their
entrance at Dublin College. Young, indigent and
inexperienced, these afterwards eminent men
received from him, in addition to the advice they
sought, pecuniary aid; and the brilliant career
which was theirs, justified the discrimination of
what extended the fame of Mr. Bunworth far beyond
the limits of the parishes adjacent to his own,
was his performance on the Irish harp and his
hospitable reception and entertainment of the
poor harpers who travelled from house to house
about the country. Grateful to their patron,
these itinerant minstrels sang his praises to the
tingling accompaniment of their harps, invoking
in return for his bounty abundant blessings on
his white head, and celebrating in their rude
verses the blooming charms of his daughters,
Elizabeth and Mary.
was all these poor fellows could do, but who can
doubt that their gratitude was sincere, when, at
the time of Mr. Bunworth's death, no less than
fifteen harps were deposited on the loft of his
granary, bequeathed to him by the last members of
a race which hasnow ceased to exist. Trifling, no
doubt, in intrinsic value were these relics, yet
there is something in gifts of the heart that
merits preservation. And it is to be regretted
that, when he died, these harps were broken up
one after the other, and used as firewood by an
ignorant follower of the family, who, on their
removal to Cork for a temporary change of scene,
was left in charge of the house.
circumstances attending the death of Mr. Bunworth
may be doubted by some; but there are still
living credible witnesses who declare their
authenticity, and who can be produced to attest
most, if not all of the following particulars.
a week previous to his dissolution, and early in
the evening, a noise was heard at the hall door
resembling the shearing of sheep, but at the time
no particular attention was paid to it. It was
nearly eleven o'clock the same night, when
Kavanagh, the herdsman, returned from Mallow
whither he had been sent in the afternoon for
some medicine, and was observed by Miss Bunworth,
to whom he delivered the parcel, to be much
agitated. At this time, it must be observed, her
father was by no means considered in danger.
is the matter, Kavanagh?" asked Miss
Bunworth : but the poor fellow, with a bewildered
look, only uttered, "The master, Miss; the
master, he is going from us!" and, overcome
with real grief, he burst into a flood of tears.
Bunworth, who was a woman of strong nerve,
enquired if any thing he had learned in Mallow
induced him to suppose that her father was worse.
Miss," said Kavanagh; "it was not in
said Miss Bunworth, with that stateliness of
manner for which she is said to have been
remarkable, "I fear you have been drinking,
which, I must say, I did not expect at such a
time as the present, when it was your duty to
have kept yourself sober. I thought you might
have been trusted. What should we have done if
you had broken the medicine bottle, or lost it?
For the doctor said it was of the greatest
consequence that your master should take the
medicine tonight. But I will speak to you in the
morning when you are in a fitter state to
understand what I say."
looked up with a stupidity of aspect which did
not serve to remove the impression of his being
drunk, as his eyes appeared heavy and dull after
the flood of tears. But his voice was not that of
an intoxicated person.
said he, "as I hope to receive mercy
hereafter, neither bit nor sup has passed my lips
since I left this house: but the master..."
softly," said Miss Bunworth " sleeps,
and is going on as well as we could expect."
be to God for that, any way," replied
Kavanagh, "But oh! Miss, he is going from
ussurely. We will lose him, the master, we will,
lose him, we will lose him!" and he wrung
is it you mean, Kavanagh?" asked Miss
it mean?" said Kavanagh: "The
Bansheehas come for him, Miss; and 'tis not I
alone whohave heard her."
'Tis an idle superstition," said Miss
be so," replied Kavanagh, as if the words '
idle superstition' only sounded upon his ear
without reaching his mind, "May be so,"
he continued, "but as I came through the
glen of Ballybeg, she was along with me keening,
and screeching, and clapping her hands, by my
side, every step of the way, with her long white
hair falling about her shoulders, and I could
hear her repeat the master's name every now and
then, as plain as ever I heard it. When I came to
the old abbey, she parted from me there, and
turned into the pigeon field next the berrin
ground, and folding her cloak about her, down she
sat under the tree that was struck by the
lightning, and began keening so bitterly, that it
went through one's heart to hear it."
said Miss Bunworth, who had however, listened
attentively to this remarkable relation, "My
father is, I believe, better; and I hope will
himself soon be up and able to convince you that
all this is but your own fancy; nevertheless, I
charge you not to mention what you have told me,
for there is no occasion to frighten your fellow
servants with the story."
Bunworth gradually declined, but nothing
particular occurred until the night previous to
his death. That night both his daughters,
exhausted with continued attendance and watching,
were prevailed upon to seek some repose, and an
elderly lady, a near relative and friend of the
family, remained by the bedside of their father.
The old gentleman then lay in the parlour, where
he had been in the morning removed at his own
request, fancying the change would afford him
relief, and the head of his bed was placed close
to the window.
room adjoining sat some male friends, and, as
usual on like occasions of illness, in the
kitchen many of the followers of the family had
assembled. The night was serene and moonlight,
the sick man slept, and nothing broke the
stillness of their melancholy watch, when the
little party in the room adjoining the parlour,
the door of which stood open, was suddenly roused
by a sound at the window near the bed.
rose tree grew outside the window, so close as to
touch the glass. This was forced aside with some
noise, and a low moaning was heard, accompanied
by clapping of hands, as if or a female in deep
affliction. It seemed as if the sound proceeded
from a person holding her mouth close to the
lady who sat by the bedside of Mr. Bunworth went
into the adjoining room, and in the tone of
alarm, enquired of the gentlemen there, if they
had heard the Banshee? Sceptical of supernatural
appearances, two of them rose hastily and went
out to discover the cause of these sounds which
they also had distinctly heard.
walked all round the house, examining every spot
of ground, particularly near the window from
whence the voice had proceeded. The bed of earth
beneath, in which the rose tree was planted had
been recently dug, and the print of a footstep,
as if the tree bad been forced aside by mortal
hand, would have inevitably remained. But they
could perceive no such impression, and an
unbroken stillness reigned without.
to dispel the mystery, they continued their
search anxiously along the road, from the
straightness of which and the lightness of the
night, they were enabled to see some distance
around them. But all was silent and deserted, and
they returned surprised and disappointed.
much more then were they astonished at learning
that the whole time of their absence, those who
remained within the house had heard the moaning
and clapping of hands even louder and more
distinct than before they had gone out; and no
sooner was the door of the room closed on them,
than they again heard the same mournful sounds!
succeeding hour the sick man became worse, and as
the first glimpse of the morning appeared, Mr.