On the Burning of Books

The distinguished Irish historian Anthony Terence Quincey, ATQ or Tony Stewart died today, December 16th, 2010, aged 81 years after a long illness. I had long been an admirer of his work and at his request republished a facsimile edition of his book “The Narrow Ground” under my Pretani Press imprint in 1986. The book had been first published by Faber & Faber Limited in 1977 and it examined five important aspects of Ulster history since 1609, when the Plantation of Ulster began, and in the mosaic of rebellion, siege, secret armies, marches, ambushes and riots traced patterns which suggested a new and challenging interpretation of what had been going on in Ulster since 1969. He dedicated the book to J.C.B.– James Camlin Beckett, whose “The Making of Modern Ireland 1603 – 1923” is considered a classic of its genre. Professor Beckett was a friend of my mentor René Fréchet of the Université Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle and following the success of Stewart’s “The Narrow Ground”, I published Beckett’s book “The Cavalier Duke, a Life of James Butler- the 1st Duke of Ormond” under my Pretani Press imprint in 1990.

I considered it an honour to be associated with such fine historians, and A.T.Q. Stewart’s book “The Shape of Irish History”, published in 2001 by the Blackstaff Press, I considered a vindication of much of my own work. When my book “The Cruthin” first appeared in 1974, it was obvious that the subject matter was totally unknown to the general public, and also seemingly to a section within academia, some of whom reacted to it with complete hostility. One academic while on a mini-bus trip launched into a tirade against me which was hysterical rather than historical, during which he informed his astonished colleagues that if any of them owned copies of my books they should go home and burn them all. On a different occasion, another academic, the co-editor of “History Ireland”, began his refutation of my work with a personal attack, “Doctor Ian Adamson is a Hospital Doctor, not a Doctor of Philosophy. He has therefore no training as a scholar.” Apart from the offensive tone, this was also questionable logic, given that so many scholarly disciplines have been enriched by the work of laymen or those who have not come up “through the ranks” and I had published papers better than his own in the Medical literature. Indeed yet another academic expressed dismay at his use of insinuation and innuendo, pointing out that personal attacks seldom convince the discerning reader. Aside from that, the co-editor’s claim that he could easily demolish ”this tenuous thesis” proved embarrassingly unfounded.

I had of course bought the first volume of David Rohl’s “A Test of Time” when it was first published in 1995 and read Rohl’s thanks for the support and technical assistance of Dr Bill Manley and Dr Bernard Newgrosh for his New Chronology. The fact that Newgrosh was a medical practitioner like myself gave me added pleasure. On December 5, 2008, I spoke at a conference in Paris, organised by Professor Wesley Hutchinson and Clíona Ní Ríordáin of the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris III at the Institute du Monde Anglophone and the Bibliotheque Sainte-Barbe. My lecture was entitled “The Ulster-Scots Movement – A Personal Account”. This has now been published in “Language Issues-Ireland, France, Spain” by P.I.E. Peter Lang, Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien. As I sat in the room on the Rue de l’École- de- Médecine where John-Paul Marat had once lain in state, I was so glad my books were not burned after all… And the finest academics in France, indeed of Europe, agreed.

Ed: Thanks to Ian for this tribute to ATQ Stewart (1929-2010), whom I knew slightly. He invited me to the launch of his book The Summer Soldiers: The 1798 Rebellion in Antrim and Down (1995), a launch which took place in Clifton House, one of Belfast’s finest old buildings. Stewart’s The Shape of Irish History (2001) and A Deeper Silence: The Hidden Origins of the United Irishmen (1993) are other fine works and of course I read The Narrow Ground many years ago. A Deeper Silence deals with the Masonic influence on the Irish Radicals. I reminded of the book today particularly because of the importance influence of Freemasonry on the music of Mozart of the same period e.g. The Magic Flute. More of this soon DV.

Telegraph obituary

QUB Press Release

A. T. Q. Stewart – Wikipedia <!–


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