THE day began with a bail-out and ended with a dig-in. And what a head-spinning, bombshell-filled, frantic, confused, chaotic day it was.
It was grimly fitting that the formal beginning of the end of the 30th Dail should play out in this way, as confusion and bombshells have been its hallmark for the entirety of its three-and-a-half year existence.
There was a sense of deja-vu yesterday evening as a heaving mob of reporters and photographers crammed into the bottom of the staircase inside Government Buildings and watched a sombre procession of ministers troop down the stairs behind their Taoiseach.
We had all been here before, of course, on April 2, 2008 when Bertie Ahern came down the mountain with his colleagues to announce his resignation.
Was his successor Brian Cowen about to launch one last bombshell and detonate his political career?
Certainly the reasons which prompted Bertie's departure (revelations about his various financial transactions which were disclosed via the Mahon Tribunal) now pale into insignificance against the charges now laid at this Taoiseach's door -- that he was at the helm when the IMF boarded the sinking ship of state.
What would Brian do?
The day had begun with a bombshell bailout -- not the multi-billion euro loan from the IMF and ECB -- but a bombshell from the Greens who staged a sudden press conference at short notice to reveal that they were pulling the plug on the Government.
They caught everyone unawares -- John Gormley told the Taoiseach only minutes before going public and even as the press conference kicked off, Brian Lenihan was in Blanchardstown, vociferously denying to the media that the Greens were taking their ball home.
At 11.30am journalists tumbled breathlessly into the small room in Leinster House in a fever of speculation. Would the Greens walk immediately, sparking a snap general election?
And when the line of Greens walked into the room, there was a gasp from the gobsmacked press.
For Paul Gogarty had managed to upstage his party leader's most dramatic-ever announcement by arriving into the press conference with his 18-month old daughter Daisy in his arms.
The cameras went berserk as the curly-headed poppet blinked in surprise as she clutched her teddy bear.
It was one of the most truly bizarre sights of a most surreal day. As Paul sat at the table and cuddled his little girl, one unimpressed observer muttered: "That's the first time I've seen a politician kiss a baby before the election campaign begins."
John Gormley did manage to wrestle attention back on himself as he announced that his party was off. They'd had enough.
"The past week has been a traumatic one for the Irish electorate. People feel misled and betrayed," he said.
But the Greens weren't heading for the hills straight away -- they wanted to stick around and support the Government's four-year plan and also vote for the Budget "in the national interest", John insisted.
"Leaving the country without a government while these matters are unresolved would be very damaging."
Alas, if John Gormley hoped that this move would restore confidence that Ireland was under control, he was sadly mistaken.
For the Greens' bailout only served to further reinforce outside impressions that Irish politics was one long chase sequence from 'The Benny Hill Show'.
Predictably all holy hell instantly broke loose. Eamon Gilmore was out on the plinth shortly after, demanding that Brian Cowen whistle up a taxi for the Aras.
"Today is the day that a finite date has been put on the life of this government. A general election is now imminent.
"The sooner that general election is held, the better," he declared.
But where was Enda Kenny, the most-likely next-Taoiseach?
Inexplicably, the Fine Gael leader was still hanging out in his hometown of Castlebar instead of burning rubber to the centre of the frenetic action.
And so his deputy James Reilly trotted out and echoed Eamon Gilmore's demand.
"The Greens have created even more uncertainty. We're in danger now of the chaos and disorder that's in our financial system being added to by chaos in our political system," he reckoned.
"Brian Cowen should go to the Park and hand in his seal."
So then began the waiting game. Everyone was hunkered down to see would the Taoiseach jump, or would he be pushed?
As the afternoon progressed and there was continued silence from Government Buildings, emboldened disaffected Fianna Fail backbenchers tore strips off their leader on the airwaves.
There was a genuine sense that nobody knew quite what was going on.
Would there be an election before Christmas? Would Brian Cowen be tossed overboard by a mutinous parliamentary party? What would happen the Budget and the four-year plan?
And then at 7pm, Brian Cowen and his Fianna Fail ministers came down the stairs of Government Buildings.
And it turned out that Brian Cowen had gone from digout to dig-in. He was going nowhere, and most certainly not up to the Phoenix Park.
"I'm the democratically-elected leader of this party. I'm the Taoiseach of this country. I want to continue with that," he declared.
He was staying for the good of the country, he stressed over and over again.
"I believe it's imperative for this country that the Budget is passed. It is highly important in the interest of political stability that it happens."
Political stability? Fat chance. His relationship with the Greens is in flitters. His own reputation is being traduced by his backbenchers.
Brian Cowen has lived to fight another day, perhaps.
But one day at a time is a country song, not a way to run a country.