An RNLI station in the southeast, which has helped to rescue more than 300 people over the past decade, has taken delivery of a new lifeboat for use in its search and rescue operations.

The Shannon class William and Agnes Wray arrived in Dunmore East in Co Waterford at lunchtime.

Dunmore East has had its own lifeboat station since 1884 and generations of families from the area have volunteered to crew RNLI lifeboats there.

At 13.41 today, Dunmore East's latest lifeboat, William and Agnes Wray, arrived in the harbour.

It was built at the RNLI All-Weather Lifeboat Centre at Poole on the English south coast.

The vessel is propelled by water jets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuverable in the RNLI's fleet. It was built at a cost of almost €2.5m.

It is the fifth Shannon class lifeboat to go into service at one of the RNLI's 46 stations on the island of Ireland.

The arrival time of the new lifeboat was significant, matching the William and Agnes Wray's unique number within the RNLI: 13-41.

The William and Agnes Wray first entered the water in July. Training of the Dunmore East crew began in Poole in August.

Last Sunday, a five-man crew under Coxswain/Mechanic Roy Abrahamsson left Dunmore East for Poole to collect the lifeboat and undergo their familiarisation training on board, before beginning the journey home.

Today was a particularly special day for Mr Ambrahamsson. In 1996, his father Walter Abrahamsson was the Coxswain/Mechanic who brought Dunmore East's current Trent class lifeboat to the harbour.

It is now being replaced by the William and Agnes Wray and will shortly be stood down from service.

"This is a very proud moment for the lifeboat crew, the station's fundraisers and the community of Dunmore East," Mr Abrahamsson said.

"While we have huge affection for our current Trent class lifeboat, which has served us so well and brought many people home, we are thrilled to receive a state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat, the first of its type to be based in the southeast.

"It's a huge investment by the RNLI in lifesaving for this area and will help us to continue to save lives at sea for generations to come."

It was also a proud day for RNLI volunteer Brendan Dunne. He has been a crew member at Dunmore East RNLI for the past 36 years and the William and Agnes Wray is the third lifeboat he has helped to crew.

Over the past decade, Dunmore East RNLI crew launched more than 150 times and brought 316 people to safety.

Last month, it was announced that the Dunmore East RNLI crew, along with Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour RNLI crews, are to receive gallantry awards in recognition of their involvement in preventing the 100-metre freighter the Lily B from drifting onto rocks near Hook Head in Co Wexford.

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The crews of the Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 117, staff at the National Maritime Operations Centre in Dublin and the master and crew of the Waterford-based tug Tramontine will also be recognised for their roles in the same rescue.

The Lily B, with a crew of nine on board, lost power in heavy seas, two nautical miles off Hook Head in October of last year.

In gale-force winds and swells of up to five metres, the crew of the Dunmore East lifeboat was involved in a 12-hour operation, which prevented the Lily B from going aground on Hook Head.

Despite the disparity in size, the lifeboat was instrumental in dragging her away from the rocks until the Tramontine arrived on scene.

It then took the Lily B and her crew on tow to the safety of Waterford Harbour.

At the time, volunteer crew member Neville Murphy described conditions during the rescue as horrendous.

Training of the Dunmore East crew on board the Shannon class lifeboat will continue for a number of weeks before they inform the Irish Coast Guard that the Trent class has been stood down and replaced formally by the William and Agnes Wray.