The first day of counting in what could be the last election for the upper house also brought some success for Fianna Fáil and the strategy of party leader, Micheál Martin, to replace the old guard with younger Dáil hopefuls.
Ms Clune — who was one of the high-profile casualties in the general election — got 103 out of the 1,065 first-preference votes in the electorate made up of TDs, outgoing senators and local authority members.
The former Cork South Central TD and ex-Fine Gael spokeswoman on Innovation and Research secured enough transfers to be elected at about 6pm and is now well positioned to take up the role of leader of the Seanad.
She was one of five elected as part of the Cultural and Education Panel.
Labour’s Cork County Councillor, John Gilroy, topped the poll with 157 first-preference votes but had to wait until after Ms Clune to be elected, on the 14th count, along with Fine Gael’s Michael Mullins.
The electoral strategy of Micheál Martin appeared to be paying off with the party on course to win two out of five seats filled last night.
The party is expected to take about 12 seats — a drop from 25 in the last Seanad.
Former Fianna Fáil Meath TD Thomas Byrne, who was on Mr Martin’s list of preferred candidates, got the second-highest first-preference vote of 129 and was elected on the 13th count.
Labhrás Ó Murchú — a member of the Fianna Fáil old guard who Mr Martin wanted overlooked in favour of younger Dáil hopefuls — retained his seat and was also elected on the 13th count.
Voting will continue today to fill all 43 seats that come under five panels including Administrative, Agricultural, Cultural and Commercial, and Labour.
Separate counts will also get under way today to fill the six seats elected by alumni of Trinity College and the National University of Ireland.
A further 11 seats will be filled in the coming weeks by nominees of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
These could represent members of the Government parties but are likely to include social campaigners and financial experts.