I have recently come across a matter of curiosity about an Irishman buried at a cemetery in Vittoriosa, Malta.

Since I recently opened a restaurant in the area, I discovered that the place of burial of Irish private Thomas McSweeney (who died, aged 23, in 1836) is, on any day, adorned with fresh flowers and candles.

Even more peculiar is the fact that the cemetery in question re-opened in the 1960s after having been closed for about 100 years. McSweeney's grave is the only one to bear the original tombstone.

It appears that McSweeney has no descendants living in Malta. And yet it seems that his grave is still the subject of some mysterious local cult.

Residents say that McSweeney was unjustly sentenced to death by hanging on the same British ship on which he served. The execution was held off the Grand Harbour of Malta and was witnessed by mates on board as well as locals on the land. An old lady living in the area claims that his spirit once appeared at the said cemetery.

I also heard that a well-known Maltese patron of the arts is looking into producing an opera to tell the story. An Irish expatriate is interested in holding a party in his honour at my restaurant. When last week an Irish customer asked me for more evidence related to McSweeney's story, I got stuck.

Readers having more information about Private Thomas McSweeney are kindly asked to send an email to chef@sugu.com.mt. Any knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

David Darmanin

Chef-owner, Sugu