This past week has seen luminaries across both county and country commemorate T.K. Whitaker, the long-time economist and public servant who passed away on Tuesday.
Although born in Rostrevor, Whitaker moved to Louth with his family in 1922, eventually going on to win a Minor Hurling Championship medal in the county seven years later.
His seminal study, 'Economic Development', would later make him one of the driving forces behind the First Programme for Economic Expansion in the early 1960s, but his impact extended far beyond the financial realm.
Indeed, as noted by Michael D Higgins, “Whitaker's work defined Government policy on Irish re-unification and peace,” with the President adding that
“The Good Friday Agreement would be unimaginable without him.”
Whitaker, who was 100 at the time of his passing, was voted Ireland's Man of the Century in 2001. Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd was among those who led the local tributes in recent days.
“T.K. Whitaker’s work helped drag this society out of its post-independence mire and transformed the Irish economy. His efforts to modernise Ireland will see him remembered as a towering figure.”
President of Dundalk IT, Ann Campbell, echoed those sentiments.
”Dr Whitaker was a close friend and inspiration to DkIT over the years. In 2001, the Institute was honoured to dedicate its Learning and Resource Centre to his name.”
That building remains a central hub of teaching and learning for academics at the Institute, serving as a home to DkIT’s burgeoning library, as well as its Centre of Excellence. Whitaker was a regular visitor to the college as a result, attending various DkIT events and even celebrating his 98th Birthday on campus.
“He made an outstanding contribution to Irish life,” added Ms Campbell, “changing the outlook of generations on this island for the better. He will be remembered as one of our nation’s true visionaries and public servants. We are privileged to honour his legacy here and he will continue to act as a beacon of knowledge, dedication, teaching and learning for all of us.
On behalf of the Institute, I would like to offer my condolences to the Whitaker family and to their close friends at this time.”