Is dóigh gurbh é an duine deireanach é a mhair de mhuintir na Suirbhéireachta Ordanáis. I mBaile Átha Cliath a rugadh é. Sa chuntas ag Strickland in Dictionary of Irish artists tugtar 12 Lúnasa 1822 mar dháta breithe. Ba é W.F. Wakeman, díoltóir leabhar agus foilsitheoir i Sráid D’Olier, Baile Átha Cliath, ach arbh as Nottingham dó, a athair. Bhí sé ag foghlaim líníochta faoi George Petrie sula raibh sé 15 bliain d’aois. Deir an cur síos air in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 1900 gurbh é Petrie faoi deara go bhfuair sé post mar línitheoir i roinn na topagrafachta den tSuirbhéireacht. Ba mhinic é ag taisteal in éineacht le Seán Ó Donnabháin. ‘Happy in an employment congenial to his taste, and in company of officials whom he fully appreciated, and, indeed, revered. These few years of work were, perhaps, the brightest, and freest from care, of Wakeman’s life’ (JRSAI). Tugann a chuntas ar obair na suirbhéireachta i gcúlpharlús Phetrie blas den sástacht sin: ‘Indeed, we lived in such an atmosphere of antiquarianism, that a thousand years ago seemed so familiar to us as the time when we first donned breeches. For my own part, I felt as if I had a personal acquaintance with Niall of the Nine Hostages, or Con of the Hundred Battles (or bottles, as poor Mangan mis-styled the hero), or with Leogaire, who would not mind the exhortations of St Patrick, but insisted on being interred, sword in hand, in his rath at Tara ... Petrie, as head of the office, superintended everything; and the mass of antiquarian and topographical information collected far exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine’ (i gcló ag A.P. Graves in Irish Literary and Musical Studies). Nuair a tháinig deireadh leis an obair sin chaith sé tamall ag múineadh agus ag obair mar línitheoir ar adhmad sular chaith ceithre bliana i Londain ag díol agus ag ceannach seaniarsmaí (Royal Irish Academy: a bicentennial history 1785-1985, 1985 in eagar ag T. Ó Raifeartaigh). D’fhostaigh George Petrie agus James Henthorn Todd é mar mhúinteoir líníochta i gColáiste Naomh Columba i Stigh Colláin. Le linn dó a bheith ansin d’ullmhaigh sé a leabhar mór The handbook of Irish antiquities, 1848. Nuair a bhog an coláiste sin go Ráth Fearnáin d’éirigh sé as an bpost. Ceapadh ina mháistir líníochta é sa Scoil Ríoga i bPortora agus bhí baint aige leis an Modhscoil in Inis Ceithleann. Fiche bliain a bhí sé sa phost sin. ‘His employment there ended mysteriously (alcohol may have been a problem) and he drifted back to Dublin where his last years were rather sad since photography had made his skill as a cutter of woodblocks redundant’ (Royal Irish Academy: a bicentennial history 1785-1985, 1985). Bhí pictiúir aige i dtaispeántais an RHA in 1843-63. Scríobh sé mórchuid aistí in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries agus in irisí eile. Bronnadh comhaltas onórach sa chumann sin air in 1888. D’éag sé i dteach a iníne i gCúil Raithin 14 Deireadh Fómhair 1900.

Mhaisigh sé leabhair le George Petrie, le Samuel Carter Hall agus a bhean, le Sir William Wilde (The Boyne and the Blackwater agus Lough Corrib) lena léaráidí breátha agus bhí breis agus dhá chéad léaráid aige in Lives of the Irish saints le John O’Hanlon.

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Diarmuid Breathnach

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