The community of Clogherhead in Co Louth has welcomed a new state-of-the-art RNLI lifeboat, which will serve the east coast of Ireland.

The Michael O'Brien Shannon class lifeboat, which has been named after an Irish lifeboat volunteer, was due to arrive at Clogherhead at 1.31pm, which is also its operation number.

A significant proportion of the funding for the lifeboat has been provided through a legacy by a Wexford farmer Henry Tomkins.

A lifelong supporter of the RNLI he stipulated that a lifeboat be named for his friend, the former Arklow Coxswain, Michael O'Brien.

The community has also raised money through a series of fundraising events.

The new 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.

The investment means the station moves 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.

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

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.

‘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" said Clogherhead RNLI Coxswain Tomás Whelahan.

The arrival of the station’s new Shannon lifeboat was due to take place in front of the beach beside the lifeboat station this afternoon.