Enniskillen,the town where I was born
Before we get to talking about the later part of my life it is only proper to address my early years in Enniskillen just to give everyone a clearer picture of where I came from and what life was like for me in my formative years.
I was born on March 31, 1946 in the small Northern Ireland town of Enniskillen in County Fermanagh which sits astride the famous twin lakes of Upper and Lower lough Erne. My Father William Thomas Mc Combs was born June 1, 1892 and my mother Lilian Elizabeth nee Thompson was born on June 28, 1904. Enniskillen has a long and glorious history dating back to the 1400's. The oldest building is the Maguire's stone castle,now called Enniskillen Castle, built by Hugh the Hospitable who died in 1428.
Enniskillen has a notable military history
Enniskillen castle is now a museum to two famous British Army regiments which for many years called Enniskillen their home. The first is The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. On 1 July 1968, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the Royal Ulster Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers became the Royal Irish Rangers (27th Inniskilling, 83rd and 87th). The date of 1 July was chosen as it marked the fifty second anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, in which battalions of all three merging fought. The Royal Irish Rangers was later to amalgamate with the Ulster Defense Regiment and on the 1st July 1992 became the Royal Irish Regiment and the second regiment is The Inniskillings (6th Dragoons) which was formed in 1689 as a cavalry regiment but finally disbanded after world war 1 in 1922. The dragoons are still fondly remembered in song as this performance by The Dubliners will clearly demonstrate.
The following video is a slide presentation of old photographs of Enniskillen from the 1920's and 1930's Many of the buildings you can see here such as Enniskillen Town Hall are still standing today.
Present Day Enniskillen
Although it is the county town of Fermanagh the town still only had a populations of 13,599 when the census was carried out in 2001. Here is Yet another video that will show you a little bit more of what Enniskillen is like today.
My early education in Enniskillen
My early schooling (1950-1957) was in the local Enniskillen Model Primary school which is still one of the biggest schools in the town. The original school building is now the Fermanagh office of the Western Education and Library Board. Having passed the infamous 11+ examination I started my secondary education (1957-1964) at the much more famous Portora Royal School. This school was founded by the decree of James I of England (James VI of Scotland) that was issued in 1608. This school is known for several of its well known old boys such as Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Henry Francis Lyte among others. For a better and full history of this historical school please click on the following link PORTORA
Rowing in Enniskillen
As Enniskillen is totally surrounded by water, being located on an island, one of the major sports excelled at by Portora students was rowing and I became a keen oarsman while at the school rowing in the stroke side number 6 position in the eights.
It was while at Portora that I had the great fortune and honor to be able to attend and compete at the famous Henley Royal Regatta, something I am still extremely proud of.
Portora Rowing Club in Enniskillen is still a major competitor at regattas around Europe today and has both boys and girls crews now although when I attended the school it was a boys only establishment and with both day boys and boarding students.
I graduated from Portora in 1964 having taken four 'A' Level GCE 's in Maths, Applied Maths, Physics and Chemistry and applied to study Chemical Engineering, a relatively new subject in 1964, at UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) in England. That period of my life however will be covered in a future article. My next article in this series will cover growing up in Enniskillen in a time of religious tension and terrorist activity and also the good times of drinking, music and dance.
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