Speaking of brogues

Shoe obsessions

When I watched Sex in the City I laughed at the concept that Carrie Bradshaw would be obsessed with expensive shoes. However, I realise I have my own shoe obsession. While Ms Bradshaw purchases a wardrobe full of expensive designer shoes (with brand names such as Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins and Jimmy Choos) I have always desired a pair of English brogues.

I think the English brogue, is the epitome of men’s shoes. A well-made man’s shoe is an impressive piece of craftsmanship and the brogue is the most impressive of all. In addition to being all leather the brogue has a decorative layer of leather over the toe and around the sides. The decoration consists of perforations and serrated edges. When it comes to brand names the ultimate for brogues is Church’s.

What is a brogue?

The shoe was originally a rough shoe made of untanned leather worn in rural Ireland and the Scottish Highlands. The perforations originally were to allow water to escape after walking through the bog and not for decoration.

How did brogues get their name?

The word, brogue, comes from the Irish and Gaelic word, brog, meaning shoe (from Old Norse brók which is related to breech).

When someone is described as talking with a brogue, that is, a strong regional or Celtic accent, it was simply a reference to the sound of a rural accent from someone who would call a shoe a brogue.

The Irish leprechaun according to folklore was employed in making or mending a single shoe. Irish folk etymology therefore suggests that leprechaun comes from leithbragan made up of Leith meaning half and brog (brogue) for shoe. However the established etymology says it comes from Old Irish luchorpan literally meaning a very small body, from lu for little and corpan from Latin corpus meaning body, but I don’t believe it (why let experts get in the way of a good story).

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