Centenarian TK Whitaker built State’s economic foundations

TK Whitaker's famous 1958 plan ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and the FIRST PROGRAMME FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT derived from it

are on the Leaving Certificate History course for 2016/17 

For background to both and incorporating new information see chapters 5 and 7 of TK WHITAKER: PORTRAIT OF A PATRIOT

Radical civil servant played pivotal role in economic, social and political life of State

Published by the Irish Times by Author Anne Chambers Thu, Dec 8, 2016, 05:00 Updated: Thu, Dec 8, 2016, 08:29 

Every country has its heroes. Some are generals, some are conquerors, some even tinsel celebrities. Few countries would nominate a long-retired civil servant.

However, in 2002, Irish people, when polled to name the Irishman of the century”, chose TK Whitaker, the man regarded as the the architect of modern Ireland. Today Ken Whitaker celebrates his 100th birthday.

Born months after the Easter Rising, his long life parallels the history of the modern Irish state, in whose economic, financial, social, educational, political and cultural evolution he played a pivotal role.

He was just six when his family moved south from Rostrevor in Co Down to Drogheda, where his potential was nurtured in the local Christian Brothers school.

In 1934, he joined the Civil Service as a clerical officer and by 1956, aged just 39, he had become secretary of the Department of Finance.

By then, the fledging Irish State was in crisis, marred by economic stagnation and rampant emigration. Agriculture was in a “prehistoric state”, the country’s mood was despondent.

“Economic and social development had failed to live up to expectations engendered by the struggle for, and achievement of, political independence,” he remembered.

Protectionism, a policy introduced by Seán Lemass, had outlived its usefulness, but “it was difficult to dismantle”, he recalled. “It had become a sort of patriotic ideal and any change could be viewed as undermining nationalism.”

T.K. Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot

In 2002, an eighty-five-year-old former civil servant was voted 'Irishman of the Century'.


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Fearless leader by land and by sea, political pragmatist and tactician, rebel, pirate and matriarch, the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’ GRACE O’MALLEY challenges and manipulates the turbulent politics of the 16th century

Grace O'Malley: The Biography of Ireland's Pirate Queen, 1530-1603 is the sole published biographical account of Grace O’Malley, sourced from original manuscript material, both in public and in private domain. For the latter, the author, Anne Chambers, had sole and exclusive access. Much of this material was located and decyphered in its original form (i.e.16th century manuscripts) by the author and is exclusive to her book. Furthermore, the presentation, opinions and analyses in the book are exclusive to the author. The author reserves all her rights in this book. No part of her book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or media, written or oral, or by means digital, electronic or mechanical, including photographic, film, video recording, photocopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system. Permission from the author and publisher must first be obtained to reproduce any part of or quotations from the book. Any transgression in this regard will be addressed. For more information, comments or enquiries please contact: Info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Copyright © 2022.


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