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Clogherhead RNLI to Welcome State-of-the-Art Lifeboat Home to Serve on the East Coast

27th May 2019
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Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat

The community of Clogherhead is set to welcome the latest RNLI lifeboat to be based in Ireland, to their town on Sunday 2 June. This Shannon class lifeboat is unique in the RNLI’s fleet as it has been funded by an Irish legacy, named after an Irish lifeboat volunteer, designed by an Irish engineer and is the first class to be called after an Irish river. The Michael O’Brien Shannon class lifeboat is due to arrive in Clogherhead at exactly 13.31 which is also the operation number of the lifeboat.

Its arrival marks the start of a new chapter in the story of search and rescue in the north-east. The Shannon lifeboat is the latest in a long line of search and rescue boats provided by the RNLI to Clogherhead over the past 120 years. This lifeboat and its launching equipment represents a multi-million euro investment at the station and signals a major change in the level of service provided by the RNLI on the east coast as it moves the station from a 15-knot lifeboat to a 25-knot one, cutting vital minutes off the time it takes for the lifeboat crew to reach a casualty.

A significant proportion of the funding for the Clogherhead lifeboat has been provided through a generous legacy by a Wexford farmer, Mr. Henry Tomkins, who was a lifelong supporter of the RNLI. Henry stipulated that a lifeboat be named for his long-time friend, the former Arklow RNLI Coxswain, Mr. Michael O’Brien. The Shannon was designed by Derry man Peter Eyre who as child was rescued by Lough Swilly RNLI in Donegal.

The arrival of the station’s new Shannon lifeboat will take place in front of the beach beside the lifeboat station in full view of the public. It will be the first time in Ireland that the RNLI will use a SLARS (Shannon Launch and Recovery System) to launch and recover a lifeboat in Ireland. The SLARS acts as a mobile slipway for the lifeboat, which can be driven directly onto the beach for recovery. It has a unique turntable cradle, which can rotate the lifeboat 180º, ready to be launched again within 10 minutes.

Clogherhead RNLI Coxswain Tomás Whelahan said, ‘We want the people of Clogherhead and the surrounding areas to come to welcome the new lifeboat home. The station has been preparing for this day for a long time and there is huge excitement for it. The past few weeks and months have been spent in preparation and training by all the crew and shore crew, to receive this incredible piece of kit from the RNLI. It is the most technologically advanced lifeboat in the fleet, and it will proudly serve the east coast for many years to come.’

‘We are incredibly honoured to receive it and we are grateful to our donor Henry Tomkins and to the local communities, who by their generosity, have made this day possible. We hope to bring many loved ones safely home in this new lifeboat.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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