Belfast Telegraph

New lifeboat unveiled in Co Louth

The Michael O’Brien joined Clogherhead RNLI following a legacy donation from Co Wexford farmer Henry Tomkins.

The Michael O’Brien lifeboat (RNLI/PA)
The Michael O’Brien lifeboat (RNLI/PA)

A new lifeboat to serve Ireland’s east coast has been unveiled in Co Louth.

The Michael O’Brien joined Clogherhead RNLI.

The lifeboat, which was funded by a farmer’s legacy, is the first class to be named after an Irish river, the Shannon.

It arrived to a sunny Clogherhead at exactly 13.31 on Sunday, the operational number of the lifeboat.

The 2.5 million euro vessel and its launching rig represents a major investment by the RNLI in the station and moves it from a 15-knot lifeboat to a 25-knot vessel, cutting vital minutes off the time it takes for the crew to reach a casualty.

It also has greater flexibility in the water than previous vessels.

Clogherhead RNLI coxswain Tomas Whelahan said: “We were thrilled with the welcome we received on our journey home in our new Shannon-class lifeboat.

“I want to thank the many people who came down to Clogherhead to see our arrival, which made it an incredibly special homecoming.

“We have had a great week with the new lifeboat, getting to know it and seeing what it can do on the open sea.

“It is a wonderful piece of kit, very different to our Mersey-class lifeboat, faster and more technologically advanced.”

A significant proportion of the funding was provided through a legacy from Wexford farmer Henry Tomkins, who was a lifelong supporter of the RNLI.

He stipulated that a lifeboat be named after his long-time friend, the former Arklow RNLI coxswain, Michael O’Brien.

The Shannon lifeboat was designed by Derry man Peter Eyre, who as a child was rescued by Lough Swilly RNLI in Donegal.

The new lifeboat arrived at Clogherhead after leaving Poole in Dorset earlier in the week.

On the way to its new home, the lifeboat crew stopped in Arklow as a tribute to Mr O’Brien.

Approaching the beach at Clogherhead, the vessel was flanked by lifeboats from neighbouring RNLI stations at Howth, Skerries and Kilkeel, creating a flotilla for the watching crowds.

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