THE Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the country was going into lockdown but said "I'm convinced we will prevail".
With health services buckling around the world, Mr Varadkar said: "Our country is rising to this challenge, and I'm convinced we will prevail.
"We are not prisoners of fate, we can influence what is going to happen next.
"Freedom was hard won in our country and it jars with us to restrict and limit individual liberties even temporarily.
"But freedom is not an abstract concept - we give it meaning every single day in the way we live our lives and the decisions we take willingly to protect our loved ones and colleagues.
"So I am asking people to give meaning to our freedom and liberty by agreeing to these restrictions, by restricting how we live our lives so others will live.
"I am asking us for a time to forego our personal liberties and freedoms for a greater cause and I am appealing to every man, woman and child in our country to make these sacrifices, not out of self-interest, but out of the love of each other, to begin each day knowing that every single imposition, every single inconvenience, every irritation, every lost opportunity will save lives and help our health service to cope.
"What happens next is up to each and every one of us," he claimed.
"So show your support for our healthcare staff, show your support for everyone who is working in essential services or looking after vulnerable citizens, show you care for your family and friends. Stay at home."
Health Minister Simon Harris also pleaded with people to abide by the restrictions, but added:
"The time will come again when our lives go back to normal, when the distance we now have to put between us can fall away.
"The darkest night will end and the sun will rise."