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I HAVE recently come across a matter of curiosity about an Irishman buried at a cemetery in Vittoriosa (Malta).
Since I opened a restaurant in the area, I discovered that the place of burial of Irish private Thomas McSweeney (died at age 23 in 1836) is at any day, still adorned with fresh flowers and candles.
Even more peculiar is the fact that the cemetery in question reopened 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 he served in. The execution was held off the Grand Harbour of Malta and was ostensibly witnessed by mates on board as well as locals on the hard. An old lady living in the area claims that his spirit once appeared at the said cemetery. I also heard that a known Maltese patron of the arts is looking into producing an opera to tell the story. When last week an Irish customer asked me for more evidence related to McSweeney’s story, I got stuck.
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