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Charles Thompson

Charles Thompson (CGT) – science teacher, mountaineer and collector of place names

A good number of placenames in Wicklow have been added to our maps in the past year. Some of these are based on the discovery of a list of names compiled by Charles Thompson in the early 1900s.

Charles Gerald Thompson (1883-1971) was born in 1883 at Cushendall, Co.Antrim. He was sent south for his education as he got older, boarding schools in Portarlington and elsewhere, then studying maths and science at Trinity College Dublin. He spent most of his working life as a science teacher in Mountjoy School.

It’s probable that CGT took up mountain climbing as a result of friendships formed in TCD. In 1906, aged about 23, we find him staying at the Hotel Glacier du Rhone in the Swiss Alps. The interest in placenames likely extended from his involvement with the Arts Club & Gaelic League and probably also a natural curiosity about the hills and what various parts were called. Family accounts have it that he was wont to stop and chat with any ‘old men’ that he saw on the side of the road, people out cutting turf and so on.

His list and notes contain a total of a little over two hundred placenames, stretching more or less along the Military Road from Glenasmole to Glendalough. Note though, that his notes are not necessarily conclusive and they do differ here & there with other important sources

These are valuable as they form a bridge backwards into the 1800s as to the names of many features. They are also valuable as CGT with his academic eye, took time to record not just the placename but also where he thought it applied. CGT passed much of this information on to Liam Price who in turn wrote ‘The Placenames of County Wicklow’ etc.