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Clogherhead RNLI name €2.5million lifeboat funded by Wexford farmer

Lifeboats News Release

A new Shannon class lifeboat for Clogherhead RNLI was officially named Michael O’Brien during a ceremony at Clogherhead lifeboat station last Saturday (31 August).

Thos Caffrey

Clogherhead RNLI name new Shannon

Intermittent rain showers didn’t dampen the atmosphere as hundreds of people turned up to witness the service of naming and dedication for the new lifeboat, the first permanent Shannon class lifeboat on the east coast of Ireland. The lifeboat was largely funded by a legacy from Wexford farmer Mr. Henry Tomkins and is named after Michael O’Brien, a former lifeboat Coxswain with Arklow RNLI, and a friend of Mr. Tomkins.

The lifeboat was officially named by Roy and Barbara Hill. Roy is Henry Tomkin’s first cousin. The naming of the lifeboat was made official when Roy and his wife Barbara climbed some steps in front of the crowd and poured whiskey over the bow of the lifeboat. Henry’s nieces were also present as were many members from Arklow RNLI.

In naming the lifeboat in Henry’s memory, Roy Hill spoke about his late cousin Henry Tomkins. He said, ‘He grew up on a small farm in county Wexford. He was a rather unique character in many ways. Although he never travelled out of Ireland, he was very knowledgeable of world affairs. He was a very kind man, quick to help anyone he came across in difficulty. His interest in lifeboats was probably due to his mother’s influence, who became a lifelong member of the RNLI. He regularly visited lifeboat stations along the southeast coast, often bringing homemade biscuits from his mother.’

‘It was in Arklow that he got to know Michael O’Brien and whom he wished this magnificent boat to be named after. Henry admired him as a brave and fearless Coxswain and a humble man. He wanted him to be honoured in this way.’

Mr. David Delamer, Chairperson of the RNLI Irish Council represented the RNLI at the ceremony and accepted the lifeboat into the care of the Institution before passing it into the safe keeping of the station.

The Shannon class lifeboat is jet driven which gives the vessel increased manoeuvrability. It is also the first lifeboat station in Ireland 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 10 minutes.

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 of lifeboat to be called after an Irish river.

Speaking at Saturday’s lifeboat naming ceremony, Tomás Whelehan, Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat Coxswain said: ‘We are extremely grateful to all those who have donated towards this lifeboat and our strengthened connection with Arklow lifeboat station. We are especially delighted with our new friendship with Barbara and Roy and the friends of Henry Tomkin’s here today.’

‘This Shannon class lifeboat means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available. I know that when our volunteer crews head out to sea that our loved ones all have peace of mind that this lifeboat will keep them safe.’

Clogherhead’s former lifeboat the Doris Bleasdale left Clogherhead for the last time the day before the naming ceremony and was sang on her way by the 5th and 6th classes of Callystown National School who gave a rendition of ‘Clogherhead as it used to be.’

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RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 / 01 8900 460 email Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 087 6483547 email: Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org or Gerry Kelly Clogherhead RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 087 2391083 email: gerrykelly2014@gmail.com

Roy and Barbara Hill name the Michael O'Brien lifeboat

RNLI/Thos Caffrey

Roy and Barbara Hill name the Michael O'Brien lifeboat
Clogherhead RNLI name Shannon class lifeboat Michael O'Brien

RNLI/Thos Caffrey

Clogherhead RNLI name Shannon class lifeboat Michael O'Brien

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 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.

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