Boggy brogues

Research in books is all well and good, but I find conversations especially rich. Asking weird questions at improbable moments elicits some of the most intriguing ahas! Today, I was talking to this Irish guy about history, and Scottish history, and Ohio history. We were ranging over a wide variety of topics when I thought of an account I’d just been reading about an immigrant Scot in the mid-1700s taken captive by a Native Americans. I told him how I’d been especially impressed by the report of how the Native Americans had traveled great distances with their captive to avoid the British troops, running over 30 miles a day.

“So I’ve been wondering about that. How do you think the Highlanders traveled? I mean, other than by boat, do you think they ran? Before roads and carriages and such? They didn’t ride horseback, did they?”

“No, I don’t think by horseback,” the Irish guy said. “Actually, I doubt they ran. I think it’s more likely they trudged. It has to have been more like trudging, doesn’t it? The land here is so boggy.”

“Right, I’ve just discovered that, trying to walk in the woods out here,” I said. I had an inkling now of what he meant by boggy, having veered off into a forest near Moniack the other day for a quarter mile or so. I couldn’t believe what difficult going it was, the cushiony-deep, mossy ground. It was the oddest sensation, like walking across couches.

An example of boggy ground, the pillows of mosses and heather to the side of this spring

“Sure,” he went on. ” It’s like that in Ireland, too. You can see it in the brogues we wear. The bogs make for slow going, and they’re so wet. These holes in brogues originally had a purpose. The Irish designed them that way because the land was so boggy, when their feet got wet, all they had to do was lift up their shoes in such a way as to let the water run out of the toe holes. It’s one of the Irish contributions to the world, really.”

I gaped at him in disbelief, but tonight, a quick internet search proved him right. My Grandpa Lindsey, and my Grandpa Patterson, Scots-Irish and Scottish, always wore brogues. Hmm.

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