Comber, Patrick Forstall (1831–1909), civil engineer, was born 30 April 1831 in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, eldest son of Thomas Comber, architect and builder, and his wife Catherine, daughter of Edward Gannon, all from Kilmena, Co. Mayo. He was educated by private tutors and by the monks of the third order of St Francis at Errew monastery before serving an early apprenticeship under his father. He left Ireland in 1853 to enter the Royal Engineer Department at Edinburgh (1853–68), where he trained for several years, subsequently carrying out various works in Scotland and Chatham. He received his first major assignment in 1868 when he was asked to draw up plans for a new royal mint in Melbourne, Australia, and on their ratification he moved to Melbourne to oversee construction (1869–72). When the mint was officially opened on 12 June 1872, Comber was retained as superintendent of the coining hall, a post he held until its abolition in 1875.
In 1876 he returned to Ireland, where he worked as a consulting engineer on several projects before settling in Bray, Co. Wicklow, as the town engineer (1881–97). His initial appointment coincided with the town commissioners' determination to stop the frequent flooding of Bray; thus Comber's first assignment was to design a protective sea wall with a grand promenade along the embankment. His plans were enthusiastically received, and once the requisite act of parliament had been procured, work on the Bray sea wall and promenade was carried out under his direction (1881–6). In his capacity as town engineer, he supervised the sanitation of Bray and designed a trunk sewer system that prevented sewage from flowing into the Dargle river (1891). In 1887 Comber ordered that all yards and ash-pits be cleaned once a month, but when his instructions were disregarded he initiated a system of paid refuse removal (1894). Along with his sometime partner, William G. Strype of Dublin, he designed a new harbour for Bray large enough to provide protection and accommodation for fishing boats, trading vessels, and yachts, and the two men supervised its construction (1891–7).
Although Comber continued as Bray's engineer until 1897, he moved to 19 Lower Leeson St., Dublin, in 1891 and established a private practice at 8 Anglesea St. Together with Strype, he designed and supervised the construction of Athlone's sewerage and water works schemes (1893–5). Comber was also responsible for a sewer system in Rathdown and the water supplies of Tipperary and Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, all presumably in collaboration with Strype. By 1899 he no longer kept a private office, so it can be assumed that he had effectively retired. He died 25 June 1909 at his Dublin residence.
He married (3 May 1859) Mary (d. 2 March 1906), eldest daughter of John Forstall of Edinburgh; they had three daughters and three sons. It is not known whether Comber and the Forstalls were related. Comber was a member of many prominent British associations, including the Municipal and County Engineers Association, the Royal Sanitary Institute, the Royal Institute of Public Health, and the Surveyors' Institute. He was elected to Britain's Institution of Civil Engineers 7 December 1897 and was an established member of the ICEI (1886–1909).