Ireland’s prime minister hailed the "quiet revolution” which delivered an overwhelming victory in favour of repealing its strict abortion laws on Saturday in a poll that marked voters' steady drift away from the grip of the country's conservative Catholic roots.
The country voted 67 per cent in favour of reform and 33 per cent against in a landslide victory for the pro-choice Yes campaign.
"We have seen the culmination of a quiet revolution that's been taking place in Ireland over 20 years," Mr Varadkar said, as he waited for the votes to be counted in Dublin.
"It's been a great exercise in democracy and the people have said we want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women to take the right decisions about their own healthcare."
Even Ireland's rural and conservative areas backed reform, with County Roscommon and the town of Longford returning Yes votes.
The majority of Irish voters have backed changing the country's abortion law
Support for reform was so widespread that the No campaign conceded defeat several hours before the referendum count was finished.
"The people of Ireland weighed it in the balance and it came down on one side. I obviously would have preferred if they had come down on the other," John McGuirk, communications director for the "Save the 8th" campaign, said on Saturday.
Dr Peter Boylan, a leading member of the Yes campaign and former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, said they were "relieved and vindicated."
Thousands forced abroad for terminations
Since it was passed in 1983, an estimated 170,000 Irish women have had to travel to England for terminations. Those who have the procedure done illegally at home risk up to 14 years in prison.
However, the pro-life No campaign has warned that the government's alternative, unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks, is "too extreme."
Young and old packed the streets of Dublin on Friday as they lined up to cast their vote following a tense and divisive campaign which has forced the country to grapple with its deeply held Catholic convictions.
One of the victims of Ireland's abortion policies referenced by the Yes campaign was Savita Halappanavar, died in hospital in Galway aged 31 when she was refused an abortion during a miscarriage.
Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, said she repeatedly asked for a termination but was refused because there was a foetal heartbeat.
Irish PM urged reform
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes in Dublin on Friday morning.
Around two hours later Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar, a vocal advocate for repeal, voted in the city. "I always get a little buzz from voting, it just feels like it is democracy in action," Mr Varadkar said after emerging from the polling station at Castleknock.
"Not taking anything for granted of course, but quietly confident - there's been good turnout across the country so far and hoping for a Yes vote tomorrow.
"Obviously, I would be encouraging everyone to come out and vote, a high turnout would be to the advantage of the yes campaign."
He urged voters not to be distracted by the sunny weather and exercise their democratic right.
#HomeToVote campaign boosted turnout
For several days at Dublin airport, activists had gathered in the arrivals lounge, clapping and cheering as they greeted Irish expats returning from as far away as Los Angeles, Hanoi and Nairobi to cast their vote.
One group of well-wishers held large “welcome home” banner. Another unfurled a sign which said: “Thank you for making the journey so other women don’t have to.”
Tara Flynn, a 48-year-old Yes voter, who had to fly to the Netherlands for an abortion 11 years ago, said: “It’s a vote to say, I don’t send you away anymore," referring to women who are forced to go abroad for terminations.
Since Thursday, fleets of cars driven by volunteers have been ferrying voters from the airport to polling stations across the country.
Many used social media to offer lifts, with Molly O’Cathain posting a photograph on Twitter of her car with a sign in the window that read “Repeal Mobile".
Over 3,000 Irish women have UK abortions per year
What happens next?
In a No vote scenario, nothing would have changed. But the Yes victory means the eighth amendment will be repealed.
Then, Irish lawmakers will get to work transferring the government's proposals into law.
Mr Varadkar has urged lawmakers to vote through the new legislation, whichever way they voted in the campaign.