Crosaire No. 100

Almost everyone in Ireland knows the Irish Times crossword. Some know it as the ‘Crosaire’, some as the cryptic crossword; more, I assume, know it as the impossible one beside the Simplex crossword that they might occasionally attempt .

The Crosaire is the name of the famous cryptic crossword in the Irish Times; it’s also, and began as, the pseudonym of one John Derek Crozier, who compiled the puzzle for sixty-eight years. Crosaire is a play on his on own surname and it’s the Irish for ‘crossroads’, a fitting pseudonym for a man whose train of thought must have been near impossible to board.

A proper south-Dubliner, he went to school in Dalkey, college in Trinity and worked in Guinness as an administrator. During his time at St. James’ Gate, he attended an Irish Times party at which he was introduced to Bertie Smyllie, the editor, whom he told about his crosswords. That night the ever-present Irish Times feature was born. The first ‘Irish Times Crossword by Crosaire’ was published on March 13th 1943.

In 1948 Crozier moved to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and farmed tobacco and maize. Though he wasn’t earning a lot from the crosswords, the stable fee kept him afloat. He said, “Whatever small importance the crosswords may have had for Irish Times readers, they certainly became of the greatest importance to us. They were our only, slender means of support while I was learning to become a tobacco farmer.”

In Zimbabwe he stood for, and lost, a general election; he taught English at St. George’s College, and had three sons. He came home to Ireland for the 50th anniversary of his crossword in 1993, and appeared on The Late Late Show.

His name was synonymous with the crossword, yet he’d been known to say that he “never completed a crossword in his life.” He joked about people that struggled with the crossword, said that it was splendid to think that there were people out there who, from time to time, would love to wring his neck.

John Derek Crozier died on the 3rd of April 2010, aged 92. At the time of Crozier’s death, he had compiled over 14,000 crosswords, none of which had conformed to the conventions of other cryptic crosswords.

He did it his own way.

Here is the 100th Crossword by Crosaire. It was first published on the 3rd of February, 1945. I particularly like how the puzzle is hand drawn, probably by Crozier’s wife, Marjorie, who often drew up the box while he wrote the clues. Try it yourself, if you can complete the crossword, (print it out or hand draw it, or do some computer wizardry, but don’t cheat on the clues!) send it in to us at: [email protected] and we’ll publish it here with your name.


Crosaire100 HeadStuff



HeadStuff reader Ann Fitzsimons has completed all but three clues on this difficult 100th Crosaire. She feels it’s as far as she can go and would love some help. Any crossword hobbyists out there who can beat three measly clues?

Let us know how you get on, or your train of thought in the comments below.