In 2002, Enda Kenny took over a Fine Gael party that was demoralised and diminished after a wretched performance in the general election of that year.

Almost nine years later, Mr Kenny will lead his party into government after making major gains in the 2011 General Election.

Mr Kenny has been a TD since 1975 when he was elected in a by-election in Mayo following the death of his father, Henry.

He has retained his seat at every subsequent election.

Mr Kenny served as Minister for Tourism and Trade in the Rainbow Coalition of 1994 to 1997.

He previously served as Minister of State at the departments of Education and Labour.

Born in Castlebar in Co Mayo in 1951, Mr Kenny was educated at University College Galway and St Patrick's College of Education in Dublin.

He worked briefly as a primary school teacher before the death of his father catapulted him into the world of politics.

After John Bruton resigned as leader of Fine Gael in 2001, Mr Kenny challenged for the leadership of the party, but it was Michael Noonan who emerged as the new leader.

Mr Noonan's stint as leader was short-lived, however, and his resignation in May 2002 - following a disastrous election in which Fine Gael lost 23 seats - paved the way for Mr Kenny to become the party's new leader.

Mr Kenny is credited with a grassroots party-rebuilding process that helped Fine Gael to regain 20 Dáil seats in the 2007 General Election.

It was not enough to propel them into government, however, as Fianna Fáil and the Green Party agreed a programme for government which enabled the formation of the 30th Dáil.

Mr Kenny's leadership of Fine Gael has not been without its challenges. His toughest test came in June 2010 when the party's deputy leader, Richard Bruton, was dismissed by Mr Kenny after the former refused to support his party leader.

Mr Kenny then tabled a motion of confidence in his leadership, which nine members of the party's front bench - Simon Coveney, Denis Naughten, Olwyn Enright, Olivia Mitchell, Fergus O'Dowd, Michael Creed, Billy Timmins, Leo Varadkar and Brian Hayes - publicly refused to support.

The motion was eventually passed, ensuring Mr Kenny's survival as party leader.

He now finds himself as leader of Ireland's largest party, and set to succeed Brian Cowen as Taoiseach.

Did you know?

- Enda Kenny is married to Fionnuala. They have three teenage children: Aoibhinn, Ferdia and Naoise

- He enjoys hillwalking, cycling, golf, has climbed Croagh Patrick over 100 times, as well as Kilimanjaro for charity

- He played for, managed and coached his local team, Islandeady GAA, for many years to County Championship victories

- He enjoys annual family holidays in Kerry

- He is an avid reader and is a fan of Irish and military history

- He is a fluent Irish speaker

- He is a Bruce Springsteen fan

- His father, Henry Kenny, won All Ireland Football honours with Mayo in 1936