A pensioner with a "heart of gold" who has a special relationship with Malta after he donated a historic Naval crest to the country is fighting for his life after being knocked down while holidaying in the resort town of Sliema.
David Cooley, 67, from Youghal, Co Cork arrived in Malta with his wife Margaret and another couple last Thursday night.
He was hit by a car as he walked on a path outside a restaurant just hours after he landed in the island.
The former Cork County Council employee is in a coma and fighting for his life.
The family of the father of three have flown to Malta to be at his bedside.
It is understood the driver of a Mercedes smart control lost control of his vehicle.
Media reports in Malta indicate that the 30-year-old driver of the car failed a breathalyser test. No arrests have been made.
A spokesperson for the Cooley family has described the accident as being "horrendous."
"He is a big soft man with a heart of gold. He loved his job and has a special relationship with Malta.
"They only arrived earlier that day and had gone out for something to eat when it happened.
Everyone in Youghal knows David. He has been involved in everything. Things like the Tidy Towns. He is a big character. A positive, lovely person. It is hard to believe this has happened to him.
David has a special fondness for Malta after he unearthed a historical Naval crest which lay in Irish homes for over sixty years with the owners unaware of its significance to the island.
A Youghal based inspector of fisheries had the crest in his garage for 25 years.
Several years ago he passed it to David Cooley who was then a member of Cork County Council's outdoor staff.
A collector of memorabilia David asked a historian to research its history.
It was discovered that the crest represented the Maltese heritage site, Fort St Angelo which was one of only two such forts categorised as "stone frigates' by the British.
The LÉ James Joyce, returned the crest in 2016 whilst operating from Malta during a humanitarian rescue operation.
Mr Cooley formally handed over the crest to Fort Angelo museum curator, Mathew Balzan,in a ceremony on board the Naval ship.
Made of solid bronze casting and still mounted on its base the crest was created either during or shortly before World War II.
It was first unearthed in an antique drawer chest brought from England to south Tipperary by a returning emigrant. The item gathered dust for 20 years.
It then came into the hands of the fisheries inspector who kept it in his garage for over two decades. He then passed it on to David Cooley who returned it to its rightful home.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of the accident in Malta and is providing consular assistance to the Cooley family. The Cooley family are appealing for privacy in the coming days.