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ATQ Stewart was our truly great historian

Published 29/12/2010

Northern Ireland, and indeed Ireland and Britain, has lost a truly great historian with the death of Dr ATQ Stewart last week (Obituary, December 24).

Tony Stewart was a rarity among academic historians. A protege of the great Queen's University historian JC Beckett, Tony wrote beautifully, in clear, descriptive English, drawing in both the scholarly and general reader alike.

His first major work, The Ulster Crisis - serialised in the Belfast Telegraph - previewed and detailed the gun-running of 1912 during the Home Rule emergency.

This was gripping reading, capturing the excitement and danger of that key chapter in Ulster history. He was also a patient and dedicated teacher and a fine and good public and private man, respected by his peers and always courteous to students and, indeed, anyone he encountered.

I profiled Tony Stewart for the Belfast Telegraph more than 32 years ago and I was proud to be counted among his friends.

Tony had been ailing from Parkinson's for some years and, while physically frail, but never complaining, he was intellectually as impressive as ever, supported, as always, by his beloved wife and fellow historian, Anna.

Tony Stewart was a distinguished son of Northern Ireland.

MICHAEL H C McDOWELL

Washington, DC

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