Legacy of generous farmer funds €2.5m state-of-the-art lifeboat
The legacy of a bachelor farmer who never left Irish shores was instrumental in funding a new €2.5m RNLI lifeboat - named in honour of his best friend.
Roy Hill, a cousin of the late Henry Tomkin from Co Wexford, was among hundreds of well-wishers who turned out for the christening of the Michael O'Brien at the Clogherhead lifeboat station on Saturday.
Mr Hill said his first cousin, who died several years ago at the age of 75, had a lifelong regard for the volunteer coast guard even though he never personally ventured further than a trip to Connemara.
But he struck up a decades-long friendship with Michael O'Brien, a former coxswain (skipper) for the Arklow RNLI, whom he regarded "as a brave and fearless coxswain and a humble man".
"He wanted him to be honoured in this way," Mr Hill said at the ceremony where he christened the vessel with a bottle of whiskey.
The boat is a state-of-the art Shannon Class lifeboat. Powered by jet-engines, it "means that we now have the latest and finest rescue equipment available", said Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat coxswain Tomás Whelehan at the ceremony. "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," he said.