Discoveries at a Templar abbey in Ireland

Ireland, Mourne Abbey
Mourne Abbey in County Cork, Ireland, has been the focus of an archaeological excavation to discover more about the history of this medieval religious center.

The abbey was built around 1199 by the Knights Templar. After the rulers of Europe turned on the Templars and destroyed the order in 1307, resulting in 700 years of conspiracy theories, the abbey was handed over to the Knights Hospitaller. This knightly order got its name because its original purpose was to care for sick pilgrims in Jerusalem after the First Crusade, but soon they acquired more land and more power to become one of the leading forces in the Holy Land and Europe. They owned some of the toughest castles in the world.

Their power waned after the Muslims reconquered the Holy Land but the order still exists today. The abbey was abandoned when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries as part of his break from Rome in 1541. It has since fallen into picturesque ruin.

Now a team of archaeologists has excavated the site and discovered remains from the Hospitaller’s stay in the abbey. The team uncovered the foundations of a 13th century preceptory, the local headquarters for the knights. Very few remains of the Knights Hospitaller have ever been found in Ireland. The archaeologists discovered decorated floor tiles, the tomb of a 16th century knight, and several artifacts.

The abbey is open to the public and there’s a medieval castle and town an easy walk away. For more images of this historic abbey, click here.

[Photo courtesy John Armagh]

Radio presenter caught masturbating in-flight blames booze and painkillers

A famous Irish radio presenter has taken to his own radio show to apologize for allegedly exposing himself to a female passenger and flight attendant, then masturbating in front of them. His actions took place on an Aer Lingus flight back in October flying from London Heathrow to Cork.

Neil Prendeville has 100,000 listeners on Cork96 FM, but claims he can not remember any details of the incident, blaming a mix of alcohol and codeine painkillers for his actions.

The news has clearly affected him quite badly – and he admits that he even contemplated suicide, but instead of taking the easy way out, he’s decided to try and educate people on the dangers of mixing alcohol and medication:

“I’m hoping others and people listening and those writing the article and whatever is to come will learn from this terrible personal experience and not mix painkillers or any tablets with alcohol.

As of right now, no charges have been filed, but the airline has concluded an investigation and passed their findings on to the police.

Save and label wine corks – Souvenir tip

A great take-home and space-saving souvenir for wine lovers are corks from bottles you’ve enjoyed while traveling.

What to write on the cork is up to you, but I usually include the date, where, and with whom I drank the wine.

At home, purchase or salvage an empty vase, bowl, or jar and simply start keeping the wine corks in there. The cork-filled vase also passes for decoration over the fireplace or on a coffee table.

Over time you can re-visit your trips by pulling out a cork and reminisce about that day.

SkyMall Monday: Gear Shift Madness!

SkyMall Monday loves cars. Sure. the SkyMall Monday headquarters is my studio apartment in New York City and I don’t own a car because I take subways everywhere, but still, cars are neat. Don’t you wish that everything you owned was designed like a car? Cars are just so perfect and amazing and cool. They’re so much more amazing than our boring household items. Thankfully, the good folks at SkyMall understand that we’re sick and tired of our boring and mundane lives. That’s why they feature not one, not two, but three thrilling household products that look like automobile gear shifts! And this week, we’re going to ruminate on all of them.
6-speed Toilet Plunger (pictured above) – Clog the toilet again with one of your Cadillac-sized poops? You could grab your classic plunger but, yawn, what’s the fun in that? If you’re going to go toe-to-toe with a pipe-demolishing clump of feces, you’re going to need six gears of elbow grease. So, confidently continue eating all the Taco Bell that you can shovel into your gullet with the knowledge that your toilet plunger can handle everything that you throw at it.*

Need more proof? The product description is much more convincing than I could ever hope to be:

Well, you need a plunger anyhow, so why not get this one that has a machined aluminum shaft and shifter knob (engraved with a 6-speed shifter pattern). Heck, stick the rubber bellows to the floor and you can practice your speed shifting while you’re doing–well, you know.

I mean, yeah, you need a plunger anyway, so, you know, get the $36 novelty version. And then just stick it to your floor and practice your “speed shifting” while spreading E. coli all over your home.

Gear Shift Coat RackLet’s dive right into the product description on this one, shall we?

It has five hooks to let you hang coats, hats, shirts, polishing cloths, etc. within easy reach-each hook is shaped like a classic manual gear shifter.

Oh, so that’s what you can hang on hooks. Coats, hats and shirts! And you’ll finally have a place to hang your polishing clothes. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it,well, probably just once. And this is going to be that one time. Here it comes. Please hang your polishing cloths on the Gear Shift Coat Rack!

Gearshift Wine Bottle StopperYou’ve just completed hosting another successful cocktail party. You’ve cleared your toilet with the 6-speed Toilet Plunger. Your guests have collected their coats and polishing cloths from the Gear Shift Coat Rack. Now you need to put away that open bottle of Merlot. But you don’t want it to go bad. You need to seal it up with the Gearshift Wine Bottle Stopper. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the product description:

The ideal gift for the wine-loving car buff!

Now, I would have thought that this was the ideal gift for the wine-loving car buff, but I don’t write for SkyMall, so what do I know?

And there you have it. Three delightful gearshift-themed products and two ways to spell gear shift. SkyMall doesn’t care if it’s one or two words so long as it’s the design focus of as many products as possible.

So, shift your credit card into high gear and enjoy life in the fast lane. See what I did there?

* Don’t throw feces. That’s just gross.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.