Enda Kenny steps down from office this afternoon, six years after he was first elected Taoiseach.

Conor McMorrow of RTÉ's Political Staff has trawled through RTÉ Archives to look at a political career that started with a 1975 Mayo by-election and culminated in trips to the Oval Office in Washington and high level negotiations on the European stage.

First elected at just 24, the 66-year-old 'Father of the Dáil' became the longest serving Taoiseach in Fine Gael history in recent weeks. Here are some of the landmark moments in his career:

1. Filling his father’s shoes

Midfielder Henry Kenny was on the first Mayo team to win the All-Ireland football title in 1936. Known by his teammates as "the man with the magic hands"; his status as a local GAA hero played no small part in him winning a seat for Fine Gael in Mayo South in 1954.

He served as a TD for 21 years before passing away through illness in 1975. Six weeks after Henry Kenny passed away, his son Enda won the by-election to fill his vacant seat in November 1975.

This clip from that campaign shows a 24-year-old newly qualified national school teacher thrust into a national battle. During the campaign, North Tipperary Fine Gael TD Tom Dunne was seriously injured in a car crash meaning he would not be returning to the Dáil for some time.

The young Enda Kenny now had to win the seat to protect Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave’s coalition and give him a wafer-thin majority that would stave off a general election.

2. The recipe for success

It was 19 years after his election in 1975 before Enda Kenny reached the Cabinet table. He was appointed Minister for Tourism and Trade by then taoiseach John Bruton in the 1994 Rainbow coalition.

Eight years later there was a meltdown in support for Fine Gael with the party losing 23 seats, dropping from 54 to 31 TDs in the 2002 general election.

Despite Enda Kenny nearly losing his own seat in the election drubbing, he was elected Fine Gael party leader to replace Michael Noonan. Here he has a wry take on leading his party.

3. The great survivor

In 2010, the Fine Gael party was gravely split when Richard Bruton led a group of party rebels in a move to oust Enda Kenny as leader.

The battle that ensued was crudely labeled "Clongowes versus the lads from the Tech" (a boorish reference to the perception of a more urbane Bruton camp versus the less suave Kenny team).

But Mr Kenny showed steel. His fighting qualities were clearly evident when he outmaneuvered the party rebels.

His humble tone on the Leinster House plinth after staving off the heave and his subsequent ability to forgive the rebels would prove one of his more pragmatic calculations.

4. Kenny is elected Ireland’s 13th Taoiseach

Not quite an overnight success, Enda Kenny was elected Ireland’s 13th Taoiseach on 9 March 2011, some 35 years after he won the by-election to fill his late father’s seat.

The sixth Fine Gael Taoiseach in history would pledge, "out of adversity we can and will create a new Ireland filled with ambition, excitement, energy and drive, where we can hope and dream again and where our people are working again."

5. 'He is the American dream'

Austerity measures and the dire economic situation dominated much of Enda Kenny’s early years in office.

Before water charges became the lightning rod for years of public anger, the beginning of his tenure of Taoiseach witnessed historic visits from Queen Elizabeth II and US President Barack Obama within weeks of each other.

Mr Kenny delivered an impassioned speech as he welcomed the US President in Dublin on 24 May 2011.

After it emerged that the new Taoiseach had used part of one of President Obama’s election speeches, he defended and said the duplication was deliberate and designed as a tribute.

6. Stinging attack on Catholic Church

Representing the rural constituency of Mayo, Enda Kenny was generally viewed as a socially conservative TD over the years. However, his July 2011 attack on the Catholic Church over the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne was a milestone. 

He said the revelations of the report brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

Attacking the Vatican he claimed: "For the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic … as little as three years ago, not three decades ago."

7. Emotional apology to Magdalene survivors

On 19 February 2013, there were unprecedented scenes in the Dáil as Taoiseach Enda Kenny apologised unreservedly on behalf of the State to the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries.

The Taoiseach struggled to maintain his composure during his apology that followed the McAleese Inquiry into the Magdalene Laundries.

His speech for the hurt the women endured led to sustained applause from all sides in the Chamber as some of the survivors watched on from the public gallery.

8. The state of the nation

On Sunday 15 December 2013, Taoiseach Enda Kenny delivered a televised speech to the nation to coincide with the announcement that Ireland was exiting the EU-IMF bailout.

He acknowledged that many people were still "struggling to make ends meet" and that the improvement in the economic situation was not being felt by many people in their daily lives.

He added: "It is now clear that your sacrifices are making a real difference. Ireland is now moving in the right direction. Our economy is starting to recover."

9. The one about the army and the ATMs

Enda Kenny was accused of "telling a tall tale" in October 2015, after details of an address he gave to a European People’s Party conference in Madrid reached home.

Mr Kenny had claimed that the Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan warned him during the Eurozone crisis that the army may be needed to guard banks and ATMs should capital controls be implemented by the government.

The questionable anecdote would come back to haunt him as he was pressed about it by opposition parties and the Irish media.

10. Marriage equality

"There is nothing to fear for voting for love and equality," was the message from the Taoiseach in a televised address in the final days of the marriage equality referendum.

A few days later Ireland would become the first country in the world where the electorate voted to make gay marriage legal. 62% of voters voted for the 34th amendment to the Constitution.

It was clearly a high point in Enda Kenny’s tenure as Taoiseach, as articulated in his address to the media on Saturday, 23 May 2015.

11. Garda Commissioner Callinan’s departure

The emergence of a series of garda-related controversies damaged Enda Kenny’s governments. 

In March 2014, the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Taoiseach of effectively sacking garda commissioner Martin Callinan. His comments came after Mr Kenny informed the Dáil that he had sent the Secretary General of the Department of Justice to Commissioner, Brian Purcell, to Callinan’s home. 

The purpose of the late night visited was to inform the garda commissioner that revelations about the taping of phone calls at garda stations were a matter of grave concern. 

The commissioner would suddenly depart his position afterwards. The Taoiseach’s explanation of the events will long be remembered.

12. Castlebar’s whingers

"Keep the recovery going", was Fine Gael’s campaign slogan during last year’s general election.

From the early days of the campaign, Fine Gael candidates (particularly outside Dublin) were derided for the message as the recovery was yet to be felt in large swathes of the country.

One of the moments that personified his party’s shaky campaign, came when Enda Kenny referred to some locals in his hometown of Castlebar as "whingers".

He would later issue a statement saying the comments made a Fine Gael rally were a reference to the manner in which the Fianna Fáil party was conducting his campaign in Mayo.

13. Fine Gael history maker

On 6 May 2016, Enda Kenny became the first Fine Gael leader in history to win re-election as Taoiseach.

He told the Dáil that the formation of the new Partnership Government proves that "politics is not about power and its attainment. It is rather that politics is always about what is possible about the possibility of what can be achieved. And achieved not for parties or individuals or sectors, but for the whole country". 

He also paid tribute to those closest to him.

14. The 'mea culpa' moment

Sensational disclosures in February this year that false allegations of child abuse were made against Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe rocked the Government.

Calls for the Taoiseach’s departure followed his poor handling of the fallout.

His performance in the Dáil on 14 February 2017, was certainly one of the moments that accelerated his move to the exit door.

In his ‘mea culpa’ moment, Enda Kenny admitted that he gave inaccurate information about the controversy to Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone.

15. 'St Patrick was an immigrant'

Enda Kenny garnered global attention with his St Patrick’s Day address to US President Donald Trump in Washington.

Against the background of Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ and proposal for the mass deportation of illegal immigrants, the Taoiseach made a plea on behalf of the undocumented Irish. 

He reminded the most powerful leader on the globe that, "Four decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore."

In telling President Trump that millions of Irish emigrants have called America home for over 200 years, the Taoiseach’s speech would become a YouTube sensation with tens of millions of views around the world.

16. Irish unity clause in Brexit deal

The economic crisis dominated Enda Kenny’s time in Government Buildings.

The scale of the crisis was such that the CSO’s monthly adjusted unemployment rate was 14.4% when he was elected Taoiseach in February 2011.

One of the statistics that he will be most proud of as he departs office, is the fact that the unemployment rate went down to 6.2% by April 2017.

But just as the economic recovery takes hold, the uncertainty caused by Britain’s decision to depart the EU now dominates the Irish political agenda.

Last month at an extraordinary summit in Brussels, the leaders of the 27 remaining EU member states agreed the formal negotiating guidelines which will govern the upcoming Brexit talks with the UK.

The Taoiseach hailed the outcome as "a huge endorsement of the Government's approach to the Brexit negotiations and a clear recognition of the unique and specific challenges facing Ireland".

Chief among them was the declaration on Irish unity, in which the EU affirms that in the event of a successful referendum Northern Ireland would automatically rejoin the EU.