The people of Comber, its Industry,
its Characters and people of action
in photographic form.
The sad passing of
Britains greatest Jazz Singer.
Comber Audio Trail
COMBER TOWN SQUARE
as it used to be.
THE TITANIC CONNECTION
New Information and links
Read Norman Nevin's unpublished
history of Comber, prefaced by a
foreword by Erskine Willis.
Jim Gracey's comprehensive
Directory of Comber
is available now as a 30mb PDF file.
A Taste of Old Comber
A good read by Len Ball &
ISBN1 - 870132 - 06 - 08
Author: Desmond Rainey and Laura Spence
Publisher: Ulster Historical Foundation
Publication Date: October 2011
Order online now at:- www.booksireland.org.uk
This book paints an intimate picture of Comber, County Down, home town of Thomas
Andrews Junior, Shipbuilder, during the thirty-nine years of his short but hugely influential life
It provides an outline of Thomas and the Andrews family; and will be gratefully acknowledged
by the many who seek to learn more about this modest man – one of the most iconic, yet
relatively unknown, personalities associated with RMS Titanic.
Thomas Andrews Junior was Chief Engineer in what was then the largest shipyard in the
world, Harland and Wolff. Many of Comber’s inhabitants worked in the shipyard and
celebrated the launch of RMS Titanic on 31st May 1911. A Chronicle of Comber describes
something of the impact on the town and the Andrews family of the tragic events of the
Join the 1912 ‘walking tour’ to see Comber as Thomas himself would have seen it – or peruse
the Ulster Directories of 1870 and 1912 to meet people he knew. Read about the Andrews
family industries, the businesses, schools, churches and organisations in the town. The book
includes a diary of local events, 1873–1912, based on articles in the Newtownards Chronicle –
as well as detailing key world events at the time. These were the subjects that would have been
discussed round the dining table at Ardara, the Andrews family home.
This illustrated book will have an intrinsic appeal for anyone with an interest in Thomas
Andrews and Titanic, and also for those interested in learning more about the historic town of
Comber, County Down.
COMBER HISTORICAL SOCIETY (CHS)
Welcome to the Website of Comber Historical Society. The Society was formed in 2000 and aims to preserve and record information relating to Comber and to make it available to all those with an interest in our town. Whether you are interested in the history of the town ? its people, places and events - or want to learn more about Comber as it is today, there will be something on the site for everybody. Please do get in touch with any comments and we'd be delighted to receive any old photographs or information you may have about Comber. This site will be regularly updated so please keep visiting.
You may wish to come along to meetings of Comber Historical Society. We meet on the second Monday of the month (September to April). at Comber Learning Centre, 1 Park Way Comber at 8.00 pm.
A donation of £3.00 per meeting is sought to help with costs
Some of the images to the left are clickable.
This sign is an indication of the most recent postings.
COMBER HISTORICAL SOCIETY MEETING 13 JANUARY 2014|
Talk by Mr Brian McDonald
The speaker at the meeting of Comber Historical Society on 13 January 2014 was Brian McDonald who spoke to us on the subject of the Cistercians in County Down.
Brian explained that over the centuries there have been many religious orders in Ireland - Augustinians, Benedictines, Knights Hospitaliers, Cistercians, etc - many of them situated in County Down.
Brian explained that monasticism has its roots in 3rd century AD Egypt from where it spread into Europe. The monastic life was one of devotion but this had to be balanced by the need to grow crops for survival and when St Benedict established an Abbey in Italy c. 520 AD he produced a set of rules for the organisation of Monastic orders which are still the basis for the organisation of life in monastic orders.
Later, c. 910, the Cluniac Reforms, which started within the Benedictine Order in France, sought to redress some secular influences affecting monastic life and restore it to its traditional roots. This led to a revival of monasticism.
The Cistercian Order began in Citeaux (Latin, Cistercium) a village in France in the early 11th century when a group of Benedictine monks rejected the growing wealth of their monastery and founded Citeaux Abbey to lead a more humble life following the Rule of St Benedict. The Cistercian order spread throughout Europe and the first Cistercian Abbey in Ireland was founded at Mellifont in 1142. By 1153 there were 7 Cistercian Abbeys in Ireland including one in Newry. By the time of the Norman invasion in c 1169 there were 10 Abbeys. Several other Abbeys were founded by the Normans. The last Cistercian abbey in Ireland was founded c.1272. All Cistercian Abbeys were built to a very similar design and their construction took a lot of hard work over a long time.
Life in a monastery was very ordered with a division of labour to ensure time for prayer and devotion. The different temperaments of the Anglo Norman and Irish monks, who were sometimes less rigid in monastic devotion than the Anglo Normans monks, often led to conflict within monasteries in Ireland.
Cistercian monks were well known for their expertise in herbal medicine and their healing skills. They were also well known for their agricultural skills. The monks at Greyabbey built fish traps in Strangford Lough probably selling some of the fish they caught to provide an income. The monasteries gradually acquired wealth through their expertise but this led to a softening of discipline and their acquired wealth made them a target for Henry VIII who dissolved the monasteries in c.1540 acquiring their wealth for himself.
Many Abbey buildings were later burned by the local Irish to prevent their use by English colonists.
There were 4 Cistercian Abbeys in County Down - Newry, Greyabbey, Inch and Comber. The Comber Abbey was founded c. 1200 by a group of monks from an Abbey in Wales. Some of the stones from the Comber Abbey were used c.1630 by Sir Hugh Montgomery to build Mount Alexander House.
Today there are 5 active Cistercian Abbey’s in Ireland.
Brian finished his talk by showing us photographs of many of the ruins of Cistercian Abbeys and of the ones still active.
A vote of thanks to Brian for a most interesting and informative presentation was given on behalf of the Society and those present by Des Rainey.
The next meeting of Comber Historical Society will be on Monday 10 February 2014 in the Learning Centre, Parkway, Comber at 8.00pm when Jim Hayes will talk to us about the Ballydrain Harriers.
All are invited and will be very welcome. A donation of £3 is requested to cover the provision of tea/coffee.
Comber Historical Society |
Programme 2013 - 2014
Comber Historical Society meets in the Learning Centre, Park Way, Killinchy Street, Comber at 8 pm on the 2nd Monday in the month.
A £3 contribution includes Tea / Biscuits.
For further details contact:
Marion Hanna (Hon., Secretary) 02891 874224
COMBER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
- Mar 10 History of Comber Mill - Johnny Andrews
- April 14 Photographic Archives of Down Museum
- May Outing to be arranged.
Comar, meeting place of the waters ? that was the name given by the ancients to a settlement at the northwest corner of Strangford Lough at the confluence of the Enler and Glen Rivers. Today we call it Comber, famous for its spuds.
Nomadic hunter gatherers arrived here around 10,000 years ago. St Patrick followed in their footsteps and founded a monastery, but its fame was eclipsed by the medieval Cistercian Abbey. Today that has vanished, and St Mary?s Parish Church occupies the site. 1606 saw an influx of Scots under James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery. Among the newcomers were the ancestors of the Andrews family who brought much prosperity to Comber. By the late 18th century John, known as ?the great?, had established a linen bleach green, corn mills and a flour mill. In 1864 his grandson erected a flax spinning mill. Later members of the family include Thomas of Titanic fame and his elder brother John Miller, wartime prime minister.
Old Comber whiskey was produced at two distilleries in the town. Last distilling was in 1952, although the odd bottle is still available, at a price! Comber was also a railway junction, with steam trains chugging their way through for exactly 100 years from 1850. Today the long-awaited bypass runs along the route of the old track.
No visitor can fail to notice a tall monument in Comber?s Georgian Square. This commemorates Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie, who fought against the French and was killed while attempting to storm the fortress of Kalunga in Nepal in 1814. His reputed last words were ?One shot more for the honour of Down?. Another valiant soldier who made the supreme sacrifice was Edmund de Wind, awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918.
HOW YOU MAY CONTRIBUTE
One of the aims of Comber Historical Society is to preserve and record the history of Comber by noting all historical documents, artefacts, photographs and audio-video material relating to the town. We would be delighted if anyone who has any records or memories of Comber would get in touch.
Contact Desmond Rainey on 028 9187 8482 or email :-
NOTE FROM THE WEB EDITOR
The web editor is Adrian Hanna. I can be contacted at the address shown in the box below.
Should you wish to reproduce any material from this site, please credit Comber Historical Society.