Unruly Characters by Somniloquist

Puzzle explanation

The letters that “escaped” from clues into grid entries or vice versa spelt out “three openings; destroyed by fire; At Swim-Two-Birds”. Flann O’Brien’s novel has three openings, for stories featuring the Pooka MacPhellimey, John Furriskey and Finn Mac Cool. The stories combine and all the characters eventually meet up in The Red Swan Hotel, plotting to torture their author, Dermot Trellis. Trellis is himself fictional, and his author makes his maid burn his papers; thus Trellis’s characters are destroyed by fire and Trellis escapes torture.

The initial grid is shown here. The circled letters were changed to show POOKA, FURRISKEY and MAC COOL starting from the ends of words in the perimeter that mean “opening” (GAP, START and PROEM respectively) and following the green paths inward to THE RED SWAN HOTEL. The initial letters of the extra words in clues, in clue order, were ARAROED (in the yellow cells here); changing them to the extra words’ last letters, MOTTRLI, showed DERMOT TRELLIS getting away (following the blue path). Alternative paths with either of the Es in 40dn changed to L were accepted, though these involved diagonal moves.

For the nine characters (letters) inside the Red Swan Hotel being “destroyed by fire”, any illustration of fire or ash, however crude (including plain shading), was accepted, with the letters either erased (having been destroyed) or extant (ie, showing them being destroyed). Totally blank cells were also accepted.

Clue explanations

Conventions: * = anagram, < = reversal

No Letter [missing] or (extra)/extra word Answer Explanation
2 Fores[T] IGAPÓ I’ + G + A + P(utting) O(ff)
7 s[H]ort TALC ITALIC − I − I
11 Affirm TIKA (swas)TIKA
12 t[R]ends FETIDEST TIDES in F(ootballers) E(ntering) T(ackle)
13 nap[E] APEDOM (n)APE DOM(inating)
15 on[E] PERIL PER + I + L
16 Ro(O)ster ROTULA ROTA around (U + L)
17 [P]art YET (Sk)YE T(rails)
19 (E)ton TO-BE OBE after T
22 gri[N]d HOUND (POUND − P) after H
26 ha[N]d DEI DELI − L
27 risotto DRUPE (UP RED) *
28 adult ITAS (A + T(roubles) + IS) *
29 [G]Aunt LEAD ON LEAN around DO
31 club(S) INTER SE INTER + homophone of SAY
34 (D)acosta DANS DANSEUR − EUR
35 Antenna(E) AREAL homophone of AERIAL
37 [S]harp ARID ACRID − C
39 restrain(T)s ERINITE (wat)ER IN IT E(ases)
41 [R]Ex ANTHER (RATHER − R) around N
42 b[O]red SPEELERS S(hrub)S around PEELER
43 (Y)early UPSEY UPS + E(ver)Y
44 rag(E)s SHREDS S + H + REDS
45 recent ROEMER homophone of RUMOUR
1 other STAR RATS <
2 route[D] TIPTOEING (I GOT EN) * after TIP
3 [B]and GAEL LEAGUE < − EU
4 tin[Y] PRO (s)PRO(g)
5 un(F)it FOEMEN (O + EM) in FEN
6 Mun(I)ch BITE BIT + E
8 Pancr[E]as ADENOID (l)AD around ((ONE + D) < + I)
9 le[A]d HEREUNTO HERO around TUNE *
10 s[T]ays CLADISTS C + LASTS around DI
14 electrical DAWS DRAWS − R
18 [S]trap UNCANNIER CAN in (REIN + NU) <
20 Edg[I]er BRITTLER BITTER around R,L separately
21 (M)um MAERL ER in MAL
24 Dalí UNKENNED (p)UNK + (p)ENNED
25 for[T] PAT PA + T(reaty)
27 bre[W]ed DRAILS LIZARDS * − Z
32 (B)east HARBOR BOR after (HARE − E)
33 marr[I]ed STUM STU(b) + M
36 lecture[R] LAO (O/A + L) <
38 [D]itched REP (c)RÊP(y)
40 (S)pawn SEEP SEE + P
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