President: Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins, a veteran left-wing politician, poet and human rights activist was elected president in October 2011 and inaugurated in November.
He is a former Galway university lecturer and published poet who has dedicated his four-decade political career to championing Irish culture and left-wing causes worldwide. He is an Irish speaker.
He also is also one of Ireland's most instantly recognized politicians, in part because of his short stature and much-imitated high voice.
Mr Higgins has served as a member of both houses of parliament in the Labour Party interest at various times, and was minister of the arts in the 1990s.
The Irish president wields little power beyond the ability to refer potentially unconstitutional legislation to the Supreme Court, but has an important symbolic role in representing Ireland at the national and international level.
Prime Minister (Taoiseach): Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny heads a coalition that ousted the previous Fianna Fail administration at early elections in February 2011.
Mr Kenny's centre-right Fine Gael won 76 seats and Labour 37 in the 166-member parliament.
The results reflected voter fury at the long-dominant Fianna Fail party, which was blamed for leading Ireland to the brink of bankruptcy.
The former governing party's collapse came three months after it agreed an international bailout worth 85bn euros. Ireland was the second European country to need such a bailout, and many in the country saw it as a crushing humiliation.
The troika of international lenders that oversaw the bailout programme - the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank - insisted on tax rises, structural reforms and the sale of state assets, and reviewed Ireland's progress every three months.
When Fine Gael and Labour formed a coalition after the 2011 election, they issued a joint document saying voters had chosen parties "to begin mending the pieces of a fractured society, a broken economy".
On taking office, Mr Kenny launched a programme of spending cuts and tax rises designed to cut the deficit to 3% by 2015. His programme was endorsed by the European Union, and received a further boost at home when voters backed the European Union Stabilisation Treaty at a referendum in the summer of 2012.
He also took steps to rein in the country's banks, which had exacerbated the problems by lending recklessly during the "Celtic Tiger" boom years, fuelling an unsustainable property bubble.
In February 2013, Ireland reached an agreement with the European Central Bank (ECB) to ease the 28bn euro bank debt burden arising from the nationalisation of the Anglo Irish Bank - a deal hailed by Mr Kenny as "an historic step" on the country's road to financial recovery.
Mr Kenny was praised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for implementing brutal cuts in public spending, and in due course Ireland proved to be the poster boy of the austerity she insisted on for struggling eurozone economies.
In December 2013, Ireland became the first bailed-out eurozone nation to complete the lending deal put in place by the troika and throw off the financial straitjacket imposed.
It is still under an obligation to repay the bailout loans and reduce its debt, and EU monitoring of Ireland's national finances will continue, but the degree of control will be reduced.
In a speech to the nation marking Ireland's regaining of its economic sovereignty, Mr Kenny said that the country's "good name and our credibility" had been restored. He pledged that never again would Ireland's stability "be threatened by speculation and greed" and warned that "prudent budgetary policies" would continue - in other words, that the end of the austerity regime is still some way off.
However, he insisted that the country's exit from financial rehab sent out "a powerful signal internationally: that Ireland is fighting back, that the spirit of our people is as strong as ever".
Born in 1951, Mr Kenny worked as a primary school teacher before succeeding his father as the parliamentary deputy for Mayo in 1975.
He served on the New Ireland Forum and other groups geared to improving Irish-British relations in the 1980s, and was briefly tourism minister in the mid-1990s. He became the leader of Fine Gael in 2002 and steered the party to its best-ever electoral showing at the 2011 elections.
Mr Kenny is married with three children. An Irish speaker like President Higgins, he took part in television debates in the language during the 2011 election campaign.
Though a practising Catholic, he backed moves in 2013 to introduce limited access to abortion for the first time in the history of Ireland, saying that the new legislation helped to clarify the law and reflected the mood of the Irish people.