Tuesday, 21 July 2009

History lesson on Comber and its favourite son

Rollo Gillespie and his statue in the town square in Comber.

IT'S bucketing down here in Belfast this morning and those sweltering days at the end of May spent frantically leafleting in Workington seem a distant memory. It's cold and wet now.

Went for a drink in Comber last night, a very traditional Ulster town. The bunting from the 12th is still up and just outside the pub where we sat, a group of youngsters were playing their flutes, no doubt practicing for next year's parades.

The town is dwarfed by a 55 foot statue of Comber's favourite son, Major General Sir Rollo Gillespie, which was unveiled on 4th June 1845 in front of 30,000 townsfolk. Rollo was certainly a colourful character joining the Jamaica Light Dragoons and fighting the French at Tiburon Peninsula, Port-au-Prince, Fort Bizotten and For de l'Hopital.

He was Adjutant-General of St. Domingo when eight men broke into his house. Armed only with his sword, he killed six of them and the other two fled. Gillespie was a born leader of men and respected by those who served under him.

In 1814, at the beginning of the Gurkha War he led a column to attack a Nepalese hill fort at Kalunga. The Gurkhas launched a counter-attack which was repulsed. Gillespie tried to follow them back into the fort with a dismounted party of the 8th Dragoons, and was just thirty yards from the fort when a Gurkha sharpshooter shot him through the heart. Without his leadership the attack collapsed.

There are nine churches, including a Catholic one, in the town and they are all nearly full each Sunday. Christianity is still thriving over here while on the mainland it seems to be dying a slow and tortuous death.

I now have a book on the history of Calvanism to include in my holiday reading, as it's something that I know very little about.

There has been a letter in the local newspaper in Norwich from church leaders in Norfolk attacking our excellent candidate, the Reverend Robert West, who is standing in the Norwich North by-election. You can read a report here.

You would have thought that these clerics would have had more pressing issues to concern them - such as empty pews and the growth of Islam - but no they want to pick on the BNP.

But I'm far from being bothered by this. Our campaign in Norwich North has been a little low key up to now, so the intervention from the Bishop of Norwich and his gang will raise our profile and remind our supporters of the importance of getting down to the polls on Thursday.

The Daily Telegraph interview with Nick and Andrew finally appears today, no doubt the delay is due to the article's editing and then re-editing and then re-editing again. The media clearly doesn't know how to deal with us. No doubt the editor hopes that the petty snide remarks that pepper the article will distract the newspaper's readers from the core message of the report which is that the two British National Party MEPs will be very different from the usual representatives of the Old Gang parties in Brussels.

And the fact that our two MEPs are different hasn't been lost on their constituents in both the North West and Yorkshire. Despite being in office for less that a week, both regional offices have been receiving a big mailbag so there are plenty of interesting cases for Andrew and Nick to get their teeth into.

1 comment:

alanorei said...

You might also find The Anabaptist Story by Greg Estep ISBN 0-8028-1594-4 interesting, Martin

It's an unusual account of how both Protestant Reformers and Catholics persecuted Christian believers who rejected infant baptism as unscriptural.

The accounts are harrowing but the Baptist movement couldn't be put down.