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Lucien Bonaparte Wyse

Margaret Aylward Dr Edward Barron Philip Barron Denis Cashman Raymond Chandler Paddy Coad Patrick Comerford Donncha Ruadh Val Doonican Sean Dunne Frank Edwards Alfie Hale John M Hearne William Hobson Dr Thomas Hussey Charles Kean John Keane Edmund Leamy D. P. Moran Gen Dick Mulcahy James Nash Peter O'Connor Jas Louis O'Donnell Pádraig Ó Fainín Gilbert O'Sullivan John Redmond Edmund I Rice James Rice, Mayor Lord Roberts V. C. John Roberts Frank Ryan Thomas Sexton Archbishop Sheehan Susan Smith John Treacy Luke Wadding William V. Wallace Cardinal Wiseman Bullocks Wyse Lucien Bonaparte Wyse



Lucien Bonaparte-Wyse

Bonaparte-Wyse is a name now synonymous with Irish Entymology and he was the subject of a recent profile by Professor Bryan P.Beirne, Professor Emeritus of the Simon Fraser University, B.C., Canada in his Review of Irish Entymology - The First Hundred Years.

Lucien was the great-grandson of Napoleon's brother, Lucien, and he was born in the late 1890's in Waterford, where he collected insects (mostly butterflies and beetles). He concentrated his collecting activities on the area adjacent to to his ancestral home at Manor of St.John, namely Roanmore and Kilbarry Bogs. With his early mentor, Canon Flemyng, he also roamed to Curraghmore and Tramore. He lived abroad until 1948 but he made frequent collecting trips to Ireland between 1906 and 1923. He also travelled extensively throughout Europe and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with his mother, Ellen Linge Prout - a Russian Countess. His father, William Charles Bonaparte, was a noted Provencal poet, amongst other things. Lucien had only a small annuity after his mother died and this diminished in time. He returned to Waterford in 1948 and lived at Manor of St.John.
Beirne describes him as a memorable character of Irish entymology and as a lifetime dilletante. Wyse did much of his collecting in Ireland between 1912 and 1923, perhaps the most turbulent years in Irish history. Some of his companions thought that his fieldwork was only a cloak for some sort of political espionage because during this time of civil disturbance, revolution and civil war, most Irish collectors stayed at home and foreign ones stayed away.
Wyse had an odd personality, he was difficult to converse with and he was almost totally humourless. In stature he fitted the stereotype of a Waterford city man in that he was short. He was also very pallid in complexion and he had a distinctively Bonapartist appearance - said to be more natural than contrived. It was also said of him that he always gave the impression of wanting to be liked but that he never knew how to go about it.

Whatever view is taken of Wyse as a man, his worth as an entymologist is not in question. He produced over thirty papers that were published in the natural history journals of the day, many in association with other fieldworkers. One example is A Fortnight's Entymology in Co.Waterford published in 1923 and in which he published details of fifty-five species of beetle, most of which were new to Waterford and two of which had never before been recorded in Ireland. Many of these still stand as Irish records and some remain as the only records of the species in Waterford. It is difficult, today, to realise the impact that such works made on the world of natural science. The optical aids and field-guides that we enjoy today either did not exist or were utterly inadequate, yet he correctly identified obscure species to the satisfaction of the natural history hierarchy. Hunting insects is generally viewed as a distinctly eccentric activity, even today, so there is little doubt that he was viewed by the people of Roanmore and those he met on the Kilbarry Bogs as a bit of a crank and as an oddball.

Lucien Bonaparte-Wyse did things that were never done before and found out things about Ireland and Waterford that were unknown before his time.  He has received national recognition for his contribution to Irish entymology.

- Extracted from the aricle Waterford Wildlife in the newspaper Waterford Today, Feb 28th 2001 
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