Scully, Reginald William (1858–1935), botanist, was born in 1858; details of his family background and childhood are unknown. He attended the Royal College of Physicians (FRAMI 1885) and for a time was assistant master of the Coombe Hospital (1897–1903), after which it appears he retired from medical practice. He had private means and, although he retained a keen interest in medicine and surgery and was always known as ‘Dr Scully’, he devoted the rest of his life to field botany in Ireland. There is no record of the origin of this interest, but by 1885 he was known to A. G. More (qv) as a finder of rare plants. Two years later More advised Scully to try a long-handled garden rake to probe the bottom vegetation of lakes. The successful results of this exercise were included in Scully's first paper ‘Notes on some Kerry plants’ (Journal of Botany, xxvi (1888), 71–8), and he was soon recognised as the leading authority on the flora of the south-west. Although he lived at Rockfield, Dundrum, Co. Dublin, for most of his life, Kerry remained the focus of his botanical work. More was an inspirational mentor to him and to other naturalists such as Nathaniel Colgan (qv), Richard M. Barrington (qv), Richard Prendergast Vowell, and Gerald Edwin Barrett-Hamilton. Before his death in 1895, More had expressed the hope that Scully and Colgan would produce the second edition of Cybele Hibernica which would fill in the gaps of the original Contributions towards a Cybele Hibernica (1866). The later edition was published in 1898 and no doubt aided Scully in editing his own life's work, Flora of County Kerry, which was published eighteen years later (1916). It was similar in outline to Colgan's Flora of County Dublin (1904) but the material was more interesting, and according to Robert Lloyd Praeger (qv) it was one of the best books on Irish botany that ever appeared. A painstaking piece of work, it detailed the extensive range of plants in Kerry which he had collected and observed over twenty-five years. Other contributors to the fieldwork included Maude Jane Delap (qv) and Robert A. Phillips (1866–1945). At the time of his death it was regarded as the most comprehensive work of its kind published in Ireland. He also contributed numerous articles to the Journal of Botany and the Irish Naturalist and was elected FLS (1889).
Modest and courteous, he was said to have plenty of ability but little conventional ambition. Praeger considered him a remarkably nice man and over-modest on his wide knowledge of botany. Like many of the naturalists mentioned above, he was essentially a loner who spent many days wandering his beloved Kerry. In later years he lived at The Grove, Rushbrooke, Co. Cork. Despite the onset of arthritis which limited laborious field work, he retained his interest in botany and plant collecting till his death at his home on 25 May 1935, aged 77. Hieracium scullyi Linton, which he discovered in 1894, was named after him. His herbarium is held in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin.