Clogherhead RNLI welcomes latest €2.5m Shannon class lifeboat to Louth station
The latest in RNLI lifeboat technology was delivered to Clogherhead in county Louth today (Sunday 2 June) and was welcomed to its new home by hundreds of people who turned out from the town and surrounding areas.
Clogherhead RNLI’s 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 arrived to a sunny Clogherhead at exactly 13.31 hours, the operational number of the lifeboat.
The Shannon lifeboat is the latest in a long line of boats provided by the RNLI to Clogherhead over the past 120 years. The €2.5 million lifeboat 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 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 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 lifeboat was designed by Derry man Peter Eyre who as 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 its way to its new home the lifeboat crew stopped in Brixham, Newlyn, Milford Haven, Howth and Arklow, the latter as a tribute to the man who the lifeboat is named in honour of, former Arklow Coxswain Michael O’Brien. Approaching the beach at Clogherhead, the vessel was flanked by lifeboats from neighbouring RNLI stations, Howth, Skerries and Kilkeel, who created a flotilla for the watching crowds.
The new lifeboat is jet driven which gives the vessel increased manoeuvrability. It will also be the first time in Ireland that the RNLI will use a SLARS (Shannon Launch and Recovery System) to launch and recover a lifeboat. The SLARS acts as a mobile slipway for the lifeboat and has a unique turntable cradle, which can rotate the lifeboat 180º, ready to be launched again within ten minutes.
Clogherhead RNLI Coxswain Tomás 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.’
‘We are honoured to receive this lifeboat and very 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, the Michael O’Brien.’
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Ireland Media Manager on 087 1254 124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Ireland Media Officer on 087 648 3547 or email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Gerry Kelly Clogherhead RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 087 2391083 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.