Times 27301 – And top of da morning to you too, setter!

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
What a puzzle, containing one of the most unlikely words to ever appear in a Times daily puzzle! Congratulations to everybody who persevered and worked it out. (No kudos at all to those who might have been born there or have visited the place.) Given how easy the rest of the crossword was, I think congratulations are also in order to the setter, who perhaps was either born in this place or had a seminal and unforgettable experience there – his (or her) first Guinness, perhaps.

I was going to make an announcement this week in advance of a personal milestone that falls soon, but I have decided that any attempt to steal the compiler’s thunder on this most special of occasions would be insensitive and out of order, so it will have to wait for another day.

32 minutes plus change for this perseverer.


1 Freely take grub round Canberra at first — in this? (6-3)
TUCKER-BAG – anagram* of TAKE GRUB round C[anberra] to give us this semi &lit. For all the cobbers, Bruces and Sheilahs out there. G’day, mates!
6 Record book (5)
ALBUM – double definition (DD)
9 Verse in ancient language inspiring a native of Riga? (7)
LATVIAN – V (verse) and A (from the clue) in LATIN
10 Admission of right-winger relating to sexual desire? (7)
AMATORY – If Theresa May were to say, I ‘AM A TORY’ then, who knows, this incantation might work it’s magic as an aphrodisiac and everyone might vote for what she appeared to be wanting on that particular day. On the other hand…
11 Left French department carrying note for Irish town (10)
PORTLAOISE – aha, here we are, here we have it. THAT CLUE, as I’m sure it will become known whenever cruciverbalists gather to share their collective wisdom on the world’s greatest, oddest, etc. clues. First, the wordplay, then the history lesson. PORT (left) followed by OISE (a French département) around LA (musical note). Now, I – and indeed the setter – would have you know that PORTLAOISE, though boasting a population of only 22,000, is the fastest growing of the top 20 largest towns and cities in Ireland (it’s obviously a devoutly Catholic place), which was once called Maryborough (after Bloody Mary) in the days when the county was called Queen’s County. Very sensibly, one of the first things the burghers of the Irish Free State did after they had got this county back was to give both it and their county seat new names. Originally the town was called Portlaoighise (meaning ‘Fort of Leix’, in case the more observant of you were wondering how you can have a port near the geographical centre of Ireland, however wet it might get) but they very sensibly I think simplified this to Portlaoise, while the county somehow ended up without the E (Laois). Incredibly, in light of the clue’s reference to a French department, Port Laoise (as it is also called) is twinned with Coulounieix-Chamiers in the Dordogne département of France. Extraordinary, as David Coleman might have said. (Thanks to Kevin for the correct parsing.)
12 Evidence of injury and endless panic (4)
14 Weight of ice beginning to accumulate in farm vehicle (5)
CARAT – A[ccumulate] in CART. I wonder how many carts those British farmers who are always pleading poverty still operate across their substantial acreages.
15 Wader shortly to appear around quiet headland (9)
SPOONBILL – P in SOON BILL (headland as in Portland Bill)
16 Send down girl who’s out of practice for speaking? (9)
RUSTICATE – If Cate (or could it be Kate? I think so, you know) hasn’t been practising her public speaking, a wag might go up to her and say, ‘You must be very rusty, Cate!’
18 Stony, and lacking 15 dn (5)
ROCKY – DD, one relying on a quick scan of the down clues
20 Lamb casserole at last, one served in US city? (4)
ELIA – dear old Charles Lamb, brother of the lady who called Byron ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’, but still had her wicked way with him, is in danger of becoming better known for filling awkward four-letter crossword spots than for being a dashed good essayist; [casserole]E I in LA
21 Dramatist quietly crossing river, and later wooded hollow (10)
PIRANDELLO – another author chappie who pops up not infrequently, this Italian is best (only?) known for his play Six Characters in Search of an Author, which, it has to be said, is up there with Long Day’s Journey into Night for title of really cool play title; R (river) in PIANO (quietly) followed by (and later) DELL
25 Jew, possibly, lives with artist and priest (7)
26 Pouring drink, reportedly, requiring Chinese porcelain (7)
TEEMING – sounds like TEA, MING
27 Almost decapitated sooner than expected (5)
28 Sailor sporting many hats around Cowes initially (9)


1 Dump outside entrances to urban lorry plant (5)
TULIP – U[rban] L[orry] in TIP
2 Time to enter new career as supplier of food (7)
3 Pilot gets one in a spin, making us flap (10)
EPIGLOTTIS – PILOT GETS I* for the flappy thing that stops food entering the lungs. Well done, that man!
4 Game sheltering in scrub in gorge (5)
BINGO – hidden in the last three words
5 Young chap: good person enthralled by dead PM once (9)
GLADSTONE – LAD ST (saint) in GONE (dead)
6 Old Asian maid a poor actor sent up (4)
AMAH – A HAM reversed
7 Air passages booked originally by male Greek character (7)
BRONCHI – B[ooked] RON (male) CHI (Greek letter)
8 Irish county chap accepting lieutenant for civic office (9)
MAYORALTY – MAYO (which should never be forgiven for sending us Westlife) LT in RAY (Ron’s mate)
13 Component French artist briefly noted initially in food allowance (10)
INGREDIENT – INGRE[s] N[oted] in DIET; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres is best known for his depictions of scantily clad females of uncertain reputation
14 Vehicle chosen by male member of religious order (9)
CARMELITE – CAR M (male) ELITE (chosen)
15 Way proficiency produces steadiness (9)
17 Agitator possibly reading scripture in prison (7)
STIRRER – R (one of the 3Rs) RE (religious education, AKA scripture) in STIR (slang for prison)
19 Bone constituent of Scotsman, say, touring Channel Islands (7)
22 A variable investigator, one of Mexican Indian extraction (5)
AZTEC – A Z (variable) TEC
23 Algerian port accommodating golf magazine (5)
24 About end of April money finally comes to bank (4)
RELY – RE (about) [apri]L [mone]Y

47 comments on “Times 27301 – And top of da morning to you too, setter!”

  1. And g’day back at yer, mate! Thanks for the blog. Now I’m flogging myself (in good Aussie style – with a “warm lettuce”) for not considering PORTLAOISE a write-in!
    1. And thanks as ever to you, Snitchmeister, for introducing me to the wit(?) of Paul Keating. Something of an improvement(?) on Denis Healey’s ‘savaged by a dead sheep’ (which I note Mr Keating borrowed in the same breath). A fair dinkum Ocker if ever there was one.
      1. Glad to be of service. It was certainly more fun in the PK days than today’s mind-numbing three word slogans (“stop the boats”, “jobs and growth”, …).
  2. Like Vinyl, I wondered about the BILL of SPOONBILL, but didn’t worry about it. UNlike Vinyl, I needed all the checkers I could get before putting in PORTLAOISE; but OISE was the only department that came to mind, and the result certainly looked Irish. I semi-biffed PIRANDELLO (saw the DELL), but was so used to P for ‘quiet’ that I never thought of PIANO. Also didn’t see how to get the other R in STIRRER.
  3. My LOI was PORTLAOISE—which I checked immediately upon entering, as it looked odd, with all those vowels. I had already thought of the French department Oise before getting the checkers for it. Interesting history, Ulaca.
  4. 34 minutes but a technical DNF as I gave up on the unknown 11 as my LOI and looked it up. Any clue that combines knowledge of Irish towns (as opposed to cities) and French départements was always going to do for me. Everything else seemed par for the Monday course.

    Edited at 2019-03-18 06:03 am (UTC)

  5. Around 10 minutes then the same thought process as jackkt — ie. clearly unknown Irish town + probably unknown French Department = try Google
  6. 17:47. I, too, needed all the checkers for the Irish town. But I recognised it when I got it, having driven past it to and from a family holiday in Dingle a few years ago. I also needed all the checkers for the Italian dramatist, only vaguely remembered from a previous crossword. COD to AMATORY.
  7. Often when solving a Times crossword I find myself wondering if an unfamiliar arrangement of letters constitutes a word. Today’s example was IMATORY. I thought it might, but listened to Gladstone who assured me it didn’t.
  8. Count me as another who didn’t know the Irish town or the French department. Until I gave up I tried unsuccessfully to fit Loire in thinking that might be a French department. In hindsight the one thing that I think could have helped me towards the right answer was that PORTLAOISE contains the same vowel sequence as the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. Anyone know if they are pronounced similarly?
      1. Not quite – according to the girl herself Saoirse rhymes with “inertia” whereas Portlaoise is pronounced Portleash
  9. …writer’s block defined. 12 minutes with LOI PORTLAOISE, put in on a vague memory of both the place and the French department, although without William Ewart Gladstone’s help it would have been Portlaoire. Otherwise I found this straightforward. Fortunately, we did Six Characters in Search of an Author at school. If it wasn’t for Lord Gnome’s esteemed publication, I could have struggled on ORGAN, as theAlgerian port wasn’t coming to mind. COD to EPIGLOTTIS. Thank you U and setter.

    Edited at 2019-03-18 09:24 am (UTC)

      1. It’s nearly sixty years ago since we read it, when I was about 14. I can’t remember that much about it. I’ve not seen it since. Is “Amazing! Don’t worry!” in the text? A Google scan only throws up “Don’t worry. You can improvise…” That’s what you can’t do with Writer’s Block!
  10. What made it even more difficult is that the pronunciation of Oise is nothing like ..laoise, which I believed to be Portleash. So I googled “Pronounce Portlaoise” and was offered 3 different versions, and a mysterious “should you pronounce the final syllable of Portlaoise?” which is even more confusing because if you don’t pronounce the final syllable, it isn’t syllable, in my book. Can any Irish persons help?
    1. I also believe it’s pronounced Portleash. There is a prison there, which was quite frequently mentioned in news bulletins in pre-Good Friday Agreement days.
      1. I guess its pronunciation is similar to taoiseach (which I always remember as sounding like tea shop).

        Edited at 2019-03-18 01:06 pm (UTC)

    2. I am wholly Scottish but claim Celtic license to offer my strong urge to say port-LEE-sha
  11. Sorry to spoil a good story Ulaca but Caro Lamb (who had the fling with Byron and described him as MBADTK) wasn’t the sister of Charles the essayist. That was Mary, who collaborated with him on the Tales from Shakespeare. Caro was nee Ponsonby and married William Lamb who became Lord Melbourne, early PM of Victoria. She liked him but detested GLADSTONE. She also liked [D]ISRAELI (did the setter have a train of thought here?). Speaking of PMs, I concluded that if Ireland could have a Taoiseach it might well have a place called PORTLAOISE. 14.23
  12. A single letter wrong in my 34 minutes. I should’ve looked at 11a even longer, as I might’ve remembered the spelling of Laois from when it came up in December—it’s even in my Big List of Stuff to Try and Remember. As it was, for some reason I plumped for PORTLAOUSE. I should probably put all the French departments on my Big List.

    I was lucky to have vaguely remembered the name PIRANDELLO from somewhere, as I just couldn’t see the parsing, and for quite some time thought Aden was in Algeria so was looking for it to end with an “a”…

    All in all, a bit too much on the made-too-hard-by-obscurities side for me, but I might not’ve said that if I’d got 11a!

    Our blogger may be happy to know that I’m still making my way through the local library’s lovely reserve-stock Everyman edition of The Essays of Elia, and enjoying it.

    Edited at 2019-03-18 11:24 am (UTC)

  13. A pleasant start to the week. BINGO went in first with PORTLAOISE and PIRANDELLO bringing up the rear. I confess to confirming the latter two, after working them out and before submitting. The town rang a bell but its spelling and the French department were not at the forefront of my consciousness. 16:15. Thanks setter and U.
  14. 11+ min. for all but 11 but couldn’t remember Oise which would have unscrambled that for me. Don’t seem right somehow to leave a glass splinter lying around on such a smooth beach. The town was whirling bewilderingly somewhere in a kaleidoscope of letters but wouldn’t settle – aggravating.
  15. What a geography lesson! I knew neither the Irish town nor the French department, and given the vast array of possibilities for ‘note’ I wasn’t able to get there.

    I also didn’t know the Algerian port, but that wasn’t quite as tricky to deduce… even though the dramatist was also unknown to me. An odd mixture of easy and obscure today, although I took longer than I should have on CALCIUM and INGREDIENT.

  16. Workmanlike crossword. Workmanlike performance. Thanks to growing up in Ireland and now living in France, I did not find the place name troublesome. It was obviously going to be Port something, and Portadown and Portarlington didn’t fit. LOI Teeming because I wasn’t sure it actually meant pouring.
  17. The usual Monday puzzle Very easy with a bit of literature and geography thrown in. As much commented above, note plus unknown to make another unknown is tricky. I just assumed there was a french department called LOISE but found I was wrong on coming here. LOI the playwright
  18. ….how to pronounce PORTLAOISE (I’d heard of it, but am grateful to Ulaca for broadening my knowledge !). Random men and women, coupled with a Guardianesque cross-reference (when I reached 18A I was still lacking 15D), and a clue for STIRRER that I found poor, diminished my enjoyment considerably.

    I can think of a few Tories who’ve been undone by sexual desire.

    LOI EPIGLOTTIS (40 seconds in the context of my overall TIME of 8:25 was a veritable eternity !)

  19. 3m58, so clearly the Irish town couldn’t have slowed me down *too* much. To be honest, one you know of an Irish country called LAOIS, the rest of the clue falls into place when you think of PORT… doesn’t it?
  20. Feeling rather pleased with myself having completed this correctly.I was held up by Lamb but then remembered the discussion about Elia on this site not too long ago.
    As people have said, most of this was hard QC standard.
    I struggled to get the right anagram fodder for EPIGLOTTIS and had entered Epicentric and tried to justify it. Then I was on to my LOI, the Irish town. Portadown was favourite with an E added at the end for luck. I used to know nearly all the French departments but I had the wrong possible notes -SO and DO – in the wrong order, but I did find Oise eventually. The clue wordplay suggested to me that the note was inside the department but I don’t want to be sniffy about that.
    Enjoyed it and took just over the hour. David
  21. Laoise/Laois: I think Laoise is the genitive case of Laois (Port Laoise = Fort of Laois).
  22. 29:49. I was slow to see epiglottis but with all the checkers finally in was able to enter the unknown Irish town and LOI with reasonable confidence. Wasn’t sure that a bill was a headland but knew the bird at 15ac. Also did not think beyond P for quietly at 21ac but fortunately had heard of the dramatist.
  23. Very pleased to have completed this. (admittedly with a bit of Googling to confirm some guesses – increased my geography GK finding Oran and Portlaoise).

    After a couple of years of regular practice I can usually finish a QC but struggle with the main cryptic crossword – I generally never fill in more than half the answers.

    Nice to see a reasonably easy 15×15 to give folk like me more confidence! The QC today was quicker than usual (not that I bother with timing) so perhaps it’s a policy to start the week off gently?

    Thanks to setter and blogger – these blogs are a great support for newbies.

  24. School camp where the cattle on the ferry had better accommodation
    Slipping on pigeon droppings near Dublin station (in my only suit)
    Finding the roughest bar in Limerick only to find the locals very hospitable
    Visiting the lovely town of Portlyonso

    Rats, but otherwise easy for me for a chane
    Thanks all

  25. No problems apart from the Irish town. But even that fell eventually. I’ve never been able to fathom out the pronunciation of Irish. I once went on a cute little train from Dublin to Dun Laoghaire without realising that it was the “Dunleary” that was the end of a ferry trip from Wales. And I thought that Siobhan and Shevaun were two different names. 20 minutes. Ann
  26. …Irish town in random French dept neither of which I had heard. 23 mins for the rest of the clues, then infinity mins for an answer I was never going to get. Shame really, would have been a PB. Didn’t even appear in my favourite aid….
  27. Pleasant Monday stuff, especially if you may well be the only correspondent on today’s blog who has taken the train from Limerick Junction to Dublin, calling at many points in between, one of them being Portlaoise. I can see the possible struggle involved if you haven’t.
  28. Happy days! Having been a lurker for ages, I finally decided to set up an LJ account, but chickened out of posting until there was good news. Today was a Very Good Day (thanks Templarredux) – whizzed through on paper in about 25 minutes with no worries at all. Realised that this must mean an easy challenge for many of course. Saturday’s jumbo though – aargh! Thanks to all bloggers for their clear explanations and setters for the brainwork 😊
    1. Welcome, pebee. The first of many posts from you, I hope. I agree with you about Saturday’s Jumbo, it was an absolute stinker!
  29. Good grief. I was surprised not to see any pink squares on submission. I’d written in PORTLAOISE in a bad-tempered that’ll-have-to-do sort of way, quite prepared to discover that I’d completely misunderstood the clue. I’m not sure if I’m pleased that (by sheer chance) I got it right, because I now have no justification for being in a grumpy mood, which I am. I suppose if you’ve heard of OISE (which I hadn’t – it seems to me to be a suffix masquerading as a place), it might have been a bit easier.

    And another thing. What is it with the Irish and their vowels? They regularly seem to go for completely implausible strings of the things, which they then don’t even bother to pronounce (“Portleash” indeed). I can only assume that glaciation eroded away all the vowels from Wales and then deposited them on Ireland in some sort of giant lexical moraine.

    ELIA was another NHO for me. Running through my extensive mental catalogue of abbreviated American cities gave me the choice between the correct answer, “eliv”, “esif” and “eniy” in order of decreasing plausibility.

    Despite ELIA and PORTLAOISE, I have to admit (grumpily) that this was a generally enjoyable puzzle. I shall try to keep my grumpiness on a short laoise.

  30. Pirandello and Ingres – God help a poor engineer. Portlaoise/Oise and Elia also. Did ok today apart from the four 10-letter clues. Not your typical Monday fare.

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