The Bean Nighe (pronounced ban nee-yeh), also known as the Washer at the Ford, is a mythical creature in Scottish and Irish folklore. The name “Bean Nighe” translates to “washerwoman” in English. This supernatural being is often associated with Celtic mythology and is considered a type of fairy or banshee. The Bean Nighe is typically depicted as a woman who is seen near bodies of water, such as rivers or streams, engaged in the act of washing bloodstained clothing or burial shrouds.

mage of Bean Nighe at a stream, her eerie washing a portent of doom

Physical characteristics

Haggard Appearance: The Bean Nighe is often depicted as having a haggard and otherworldly appearance. Her features may be described as worn or aged.

Long, Disheveled Hair: Some legends describe the Bean Nighe as having long, unkempt hair.

Green or Grey Clothing: The Bean Nighe is typically portrayed wearing a green or grey robe or dress.


The exact origins of the Bean Nighe legend are challenging to pinpoint, as folklore tends to develop organically within communities over time.

The concept of a woman washing bloodstained clothing or burial shrouds near bodies of water as a harbinger of death is a motif found in various cultures, but the specific details and characteristics of the Bean Nighe are unique to Celtic traditions.

Bean Nighe, a solemn figure by the water, foretelling fate

powers and abilities

Foretelling Death: The primary ability of the Bean Nighe is her role as a harbinger of death. She is often seen washing the bloodstained clothing or burial shrouds of those who are about to die. Encountering her near a body of water is considered an ominous sign, signaling an impending death in the community.

Location Sensitivity: The Bean Nighe is associated with specific locations, particularly bodies of water like rivers, streams, or fords.

Interaction with Humans: Some versions of the Bean Nighe legend include the idea that if a person is able to approach her without being detected, they may have the opportunity to ask her three questions or make three wishes.

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