Belfast Telegraph

Top figures attend funeral Mass for 'architect of modern Ireland' TK Whitaker

TK Whitaker, dubbed the architect of modern Ireland, wanted to be remembered simply as a civil servant who did his best, his funeral Mass has heard.

Eminent figures from the worlds of politics, justice and finance were among hundreds who thronged the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook, Dublin, to pay their last respects.

The late economist, credited with designing the blueprint of Ireland's economic success, attended early morning Mass every day in the same church for decades, his friend and chief celebrant Father Loman MacAodha told mourners.

"Asked how he'd like to be remembered, he replied: 'As a civil servant - who did his best'," Fr MacAodha recalled.

The Fransiscan friar said his friend was truly civil, as in courteous and concerned for others, and was a true servant - "he came to serve, not to be served".

He also remembered Mr Whitaker being asked at the age of 80 to respond to a series of essays written up by scholars to honour his manifold achievements in a lifetime of public service.

"He replied, typically pithily: 'I thank God for having so far given me an interesting, fulfilling and happy life. I look forward to it continuing that way for a while longer'," said Fr MacAodha, drawing laughter from the congregation.

Thomas Kenneth Whitaker died on Monday at the age of 100.

Born in 1916 in Rostrevor, Co Down, he developed in the 1950s a cornerstone policy that helped end Ireland's economic protectionism and led to greater participation in world trade with the aid of foreign investment.

He was one of the youngest secretaries of Ireland's Finance Department when appointed to the post at the age of 39, and played a prominent role in the country's economic affairs for decades.

Mr Whitaker later became governor general of Ireland's Central Bank and a member of the Seanad, the upper house of parliament, and the Council of State.

He is also credited with playing a key role in early events which ultimately led to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

His funeral heard he also had an enduring love of fly fishing, golf, playing the piano, listening to classical music loudly and the Irish language, while his eyes would light up any time one of his 27 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren walked into the room.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, as well as former president Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, were among the mourners.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his aide-de-camp Commandant Kieran Carey.

Government ministers Michael Noonan and Frances Fitzgerald, former Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan, Chief Justice Susan Denham, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and former government ministers Des O'Malley amd Mary Hanafin also attended.

Mr Whitaker's son, also known as Ken, noted his father is celebrated as a great patriot and a man of the 20th century.

But he added: "He was to us, just our Dad.

"He was the most wonderful father, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather.

"It was a great privilege for us, his children, and our families to be part of his life, and to have experienced first hand his warmth, wisdom, generosity and charm.

"We were very fortunate to have had the pleasure of his company for such a wonderfully long time.

"We shall miss him greatly."

Fr MacAodha said Mr Whitaker had also suffered through his life from the deaths of many of his family and close friends who he loved dearly.

But he remained optimistic and full of hope throughout with a "mischievous grin and impish sense of humour when others had long faces.

"He had a joie de vivre - a way of being joyful despite everything.

"It was a truly fulfilled life, fulfilled right to the end."

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