Sean Kelly has described his re-election to the European Parliament as "the greatest moment" of his political career.
Mr Kelly was elected on the ninth count after an agonising wait of almost 34 hours of counting. The former GAA President eventually exceeded the quota, landing on 119,883 votes.
"We were just chipping away at it," he said.
"I am absolutely ecstatic. I never thought I would be first elected.
"I am delighted to be returned to work for Ireland South again."
Mr Kelly said it was just a matter of being patient after the announcement of the first count yesterday evening but said he remained calm.
"It wasn't too bad knowing that we would get over the line," he said.
"I would have a bit more sympathy for those who would have far different emotions, wondering if they will get through or not, that is far more difficult. I just had to be patient but they are still wondering if they will make it, maybe for another day or two, my heart goes out to them."
Mr Kelly also fired a warning shot to those who go to the European Parliament to "spoof", singling out Nigel Farage and "the far left and far right" for criticism.
He said it is essential to go to Europe with a positive attitude to get work done.
"I don't see why anyone would go out with a negative attitude - if that's what you're thinking, you might as well go home," he said.
"I hope that the Irish MEPs will work together for the benefit of Ireland, especially for Brexit. There are times we will disagree personally and politically, but we can all work together if we pull on the green jersey and do our best for Ireland."