One of T.K. Whitakers life-long motivations in public office was to establish a positive relationship in Ireland between North and South which over more recent times has become threatened by economic issues such as Brexit and the Backstop.

As early as the 1950s Whitaker initiated cross-border relationships with his civil service counterparts in Northern Ireland on issues of mutual benefit such as electricity supply, transport and the Erne waterway. On 14 January 1965 he arranged the historic meeting between Sean Lemass and Terence O’Neill which broke the forty-three year long wall of silence that up to that time had existed between the leaders of both parts of Ireland.

In 1969, amidst the carnage, rioting and teargas he wrote Jack Lynch’s ‘Tralee Speech’ which for the first time committed the Irish Government to a policy of reunification by the principle of consent. In 1970 he embarked on a behind-the-scenes dialogue with his opposite numbers in the public service and banking sectors in Northern Ireland and in the UK from which, over the following two decades, emanated many policy documents which, in turn, informed the Irish and UK Governments’ policy on Northern Ireland.

During the 1960s in his role as the pioneering architect of the Republic’s economic development Whitaker spearheaded the country’s convoluted path towards membership of what was then the European Economic Market. As secretary of the Department of Finance he led delegations to European capitals seeking support for Ireland’s admittance to the then exclusive club of six nations. In January 1962 he attended an EEC Council meeting in Brussels where Ireland’s case was coolly received.

This rebuff to Ireland’s initial attempt to join the European Economic Community (now the European Union) and its implications for the Irish economy was offset in 1965 by a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. Negotiated and managed by Ken Whitaker and his team of civil servants, over a six-month period of hard-bargaining, the first Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement became the lifeline for Irish exports, particularly agricultural exports, during the uncertain years prior to membership of the EEC in 1973.

While the economic scenario vis-à-vis Ireland and the UK may have altered in the intervening years, both countries share more than what may divide us; a close interdependence in the areas of trade and travel and as guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. Perhaps as in 1965 Ireland should again investigate some form of a bilateral Anglo Irish arrangement in the area of trade. While this time such a venture would, of necessity, need EU support, however, as it might also serve to ease, even eliminate, the conundrum, for Europe as much as for Britain, posed by the Backstop, as well as protect what has been achieved under the Good Friday Agreement, given Ireland’s unique position in relation to Brexit it might also find support among our European partners.

And as to relations between both parts of this island, perhaps TK Whitaker’s proposal made in 1997, as part of the evolving relationship between North and South, to establish a ‘Council of Ireland’ where issues of common interest affecting both sides of the Border, for example Brexit, could be discussed by politicians from both North and South. The fact that such a proposal originated in the 1920s, has never been tried and therefore never incurred any criticism, in theory at least means, as Whitaker noted, ‘that its potentiality is still green’.


Anne Chambers


3rd anniversary of the passing of Dr. T. K Whitaker (1916-2017)


Thursday 9 January marks the 3rd anniversary of the passing of Dr. T. K  Whitaker (1916-2017)

Voted Ireland's 'Man of the 20th Century' by ordinary Irish citizens for his work as a public servant over the space of many decades his life was devoted to the service of the people and the country.

Widely regarded as the 'Architect of Modern Ireland' Whitaker provided the blueprint for Ireland's economic regeneration in the late 1950s and 60s and continued to play a hugely influential role in the economic, social and cultural evolution of the
modern Irish state and in the search for peace in Northern Ireland until his death in 2017.


TK Whitaker Portrait of a Patriot

 '.....a testament to the importance of the real meaning of republicanism and 'the common good'. Irish Times
'Packed with fascinating detail...absorbing'. Irish Independent
'Well written and well researched...crammed with insights'. Sunday Business Post.
(Now available in paperback).



Pictured on the stage of the Linenhall Theatre, Castlebar after their performances at the sell-out concert to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the birth of the Castlebar-born Diva, Margaret Burke Sheridan, Siobhan Kilkelly, Helene Hutchinson Murray, Anne Marie Gibbons, Anne Chambers and Hubert Francis.



Honouring Margaret Burke Sheridan on the 130th anniversary of her birth in Castlebar on 15 October at her grave in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

A concert and exhibition in her honour will take place on 30 October at 8pm in the Linenhall Theatre, Castlebar.




'Going to a new play is always interesting. There are no preceived ideas and nothing to compare it to.

"Matriarchs" is a play about two very powerful women, Elizabeth 1st of England and Grace O'Malley the Pirate Queen. From the moment the play opened you were drawn into the battle of wits between these two women, Graces son, Tibbott Burke and Robert, the Earl of Essex. It is about love, marriage, power and the challenges posed by female ageing

Ann Chambers dialog ue was powerful and surefooted, discriptive and dramatic and well served by all three actors.

Regina McCormack as Grace O'Malley brought a great earthiness to the role of the Pirate Queen and Bronach Joyce as Elizabeth 1st was regal, haughty and commanding. Conor Clarke played both Tibbott and Essex with great contrast and confidence.

Lighting and direction were spot on and the scene changes were seamless.

This is a play that leaves you wanting to know more about Grace O'Malley and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.'


John Rubin

'Just imagine I had to travel to the West Coast of Ireland to learn from a wonderful new play by Irish author Anne Chambers about a piece of Anglo-Irish history that has evaded me all these years, despite all the films and books on The Tudors and all the Documentaries made by the eminent Professor Dr David Starkey.

I will not tell you what I learnt and do a "spoiler" about this first play, so well written produced and directed by the author, but I will say that the staging and acting was of the highest standard and the story quite riveting. A sell out production each night with queues of people waiting and hoping in vain for ticket returns and in the end unfortunate to miss an excellent night's entertainment'.


Mary Darcy 

"We attended Matriarchs and loved it. So fabulous a got a standing ovation. Terrific performance by the aptly named Regina McCormack as Grace O. Elizabeth Regina was played by Bronagh Joyce whom I took to be
English so good was the accent. Earl of Essex was played by a school boy who was remarkably good for his age.

The whole notion of Grace O'Malley seemed mythical and yet she did exist. How she managed to have a mind of her own and leadership qualities at a time when the Church patriarchs (as well as husbands/fathers) did your thinking for you - is puzzling. Great scriptwriting by Anne C. She's certainly a marvel.''


T.K. Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot

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


Indian Prince KS Ranjitsinhji was the most famous cricket-player of his generation


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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