Outgoing Finance Minister Brian Lenihan battled back tears as he admitted it was an "extraordinarily difficult election" after securing a seat in Dublin for a decimated Fianna Fail Party.
Mr Lenihan -- who topped the poll last time round in 2007 with more than 11,000 votes -- only managed to secure the fourth seat in Dublin West as it went down to the final count.
"The people have sent a very clear message today they want to see a change of government.
"They want to see a change. Fianna Fail will co-operate with that, we will provide responsible," a clearly emotional Mr Lenihan said in Coolmine Leisure Centre in Blanchardstown, West Dublin, as he thanked all his supporters.
"It has been an extraordinarily difficult election and I appreciate the huge pain and hurt that many individuals and households have suffered as they have seen reductions in their income and worrying about the fate of their children."
Mr Lenihan, who secured just 8,289 votes, said the entire nation needed to pull together if we were to have a "land fit for our children".
There were no surprises in the star-studded constituency as Labour's Joan Burton romped home at the first count with 8,495 votes. She was the first of the 'Big Four' home -- followed by Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, the socialist Party's Joe Higgins and then finally Mr Lenihan.
A beaming Ms Burton -- the first TD to be elected countrywide -- said it was also a result for the women of Ireland. She said the 166 TDs elected to the new Dail must immediately begin working to turn the "appalling economic situation" around and renegotiate IMF deal.
Mr Varadkar said the Fine Gael party would provide a "strong and stable" coalition government and that would most likely be with the Labour Party.