Kevin Doyle: 'This is an historic day, but not one for triumphalism'
For a moment in the sanctity of the polling booth we were all equal.
Every man and woman was given one piece of paper and directed towards a little box with the once mocked but now much cherished pencil.
It didn't matter whether you were rich or poor, young or old, rural or urban. Your decision was as valuable as anybody else's.
And it turned out that we had more in common than we realised.
The debate over recent weeks has at times been hostile, plagued by half-truths and on occasion downright lies. But it was educational too.
As a nation we discussed sex. We talked about right and wrong. We reflected on how we have treated women. And we looked at the society we want for the next generation.
Abortion is a topic that Ireland has always struggled with long before the Eighth Amendment was introduced in 1983.
Depending on your viewpoint it is something to be abhorred, the lesser of two evils, or a fundamental human right.
But what's clear now is that above all it is reality. People accepted that an Irish solution to an Irish problem was no longer enough. Exporting our troubled and heartbroken women is not the way of 'modern Ireland'.
As 'Time' magazine suggested in recent days: "The debate is no longer framed in terms of black-and-white morality, and has instead been pushed into the realm of human rights, healthcare and the tangible effects of the law."
Think back over all the arguments, the TV meltdowns, newspaper columns and political journeys we've witnessed since the Citizens' Assembly reported in June 2017.
And when we finally found ourselves with a pencil and a piece of paper, we were asked a question that in no way reflected the debates we've heard over the past months and years. Did you even read it?
It queried whether you wanted to change the Constitution to reflect the "Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018".
But people knew what it meant - because, for all our flaws, Irish people know how to handle referendums.
Once in that little cubicle it was time to push aside the views of the 'experts', the journalists and the politicians. We all had an equal say in how we shape our society.
And what the people said will have stunned all the 'experts', the journalists and the politicians.
Exit polls suggest 69.4pc now accept that abortion should be legislated for.
One of the biggest stories emerging from referendum day is the enormous numbers of young people who wanted a say in shaping their country. A massive 87pc of those aged 18-24 voted for repeal.
More than 118,000 got their names added to the Register of Electors in the weeks leading up to polling. In the era of Trump and Brexit, it gives hope that the future of Ireland is in good hands.
But they were not alone. The thousands who flew 'Home To Vote' were joined by older family members who might once have considered themselves part of 'Catholic Ireland'.
All the signals were that more than 60pc of voters - around two million people - made their way to the ballot box.
An RTÉ poll in conjunction with Behaviour & Attitudes asked 3,800 people how they voted as they left polling stations.
They found that 79pc of voters in Dublin backed repeal.
The majority was smaller in rural Ireland - but still much larger than even the most optimistic Yes campaigners would have predicted.
Overall, the exit poll found that 63.3pc of rural dwellers trust our TDs and senators to resolve a problem that has plagued this country for decades.
In Leinster, excluding Dublin, the expected result is in the region of 67.2pc Yes compared to 32.8pc No. Munster will bring in a similar result.
And Connacht-Ulster, which is always regarded as the most socially conservative part of the country, voted in favour of the constitutional change by 62pc to 38pc.
Women are thought to have voted in favour of change by a margin of 72.1pc to 27.9pc.
And men were not far behind, with 66pc believed to say Yes.
As the figures emerged, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: "Thank you to everyone who voted today. Democracy in action. It's looking like we will make history tomorrow..."
The implications of the vote will be far-reaching, both politically and socially.
This was, after all, touted as a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity.
But of course, we can't forget that nearly one in three people voted No. This is a historic day - but it is not a day for triumphalism.
If we learned one thing during the campaign, it is that every abortion is a hard case and a private tragedy for a family.