Kidney was Ireland's assistant coach for three years
Declan Kidney has been appointed as Ireland's new rugby coach.
The 48-year-old Munster coach has signed a contract which will keep him in charge until the 2011 World Cup.
Kidney succeeds Eddie O'Sullivan, who resigned in March, but will not take charge until after Ireland's summer tour in New Zealand and Australia.
This will enable Kidney to concentrate on Munster's Heineken Cup final against Toulouse on 24 May, with a temporary coach taking charge of Ireland's tour.
The Irish RFU said that the management for Ireland's games against the Barbarians (27 May), New Zealand (7 June) and Australia (14 June) "will be announced shortly".
But it is expected that Connacht coach Michael Bradley will take temporary charge.
Former South African forwards coach Gert Smal, Alan Gaffney and Leinster manager Paul McNaughton are being tipped to form Kidney's backroom team although there is no official word on this yet.
Kidney, who has been favourite to take the role since O'Sullivan's departure, said that he was "delighted" to be given the Ireland position.
"There is no greater honour for any coach than to lead his own country," he added.
His ability to achieve success and develop players in the ever increasing competitive arena of professional rugby is proven
Irish RFU chief executive Philip Browne
"I have worked with many exceptional players during my career at both international and provincial level and there is no doubt that we have the talent in Ireland to be successful at the highest level.
"The challenge going forward for the Ireland team and Irish rugby as a whole is to continue the growth and success on the field. I am excited about the challenge and looking forward to working with the players.
"My focus now for the next three weeks will be totally on the Munster team and the preparation for the Heineken Cup final."
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said that Kidney's record "speaks for itself".
"It was obvious from the very beginning of this process that he was one of the main contenders to lead Ireland to the next Rugby World Cup in 2011," added Browne.
"His ability to achieve success and develop players in the ever increasing competitive arena of professional rugby is proven and the IRFU is delighted to have made this appointment.
"While the need to make the appointment as soon as was practicable was important, the IRFU was conscious of keeping any disruption to the preparations of the Munster team to a minimum."
Kidney successfully coached several Ireland under-age teams including the Under-19 side which won the World Cup in 1998.
That team included current internationals Brian O'Driscoll, Donncha O'Callaghan and Paddy Wallace.
His Munster side were narrowly defeated in the 2000 and 2002 Heineken Cup finals, and after stints as Ireland asistant coach and Leinster boss, he returned to guide the Thomond Park outfit to their emotional 2006 European triumph.
O'Sullivan stood down as head coach after Ireland finished fourth in the Six Nations, their worst return since the competition was expanded to include Italy in 2000.
That followed hot on the heels of Ireland's hugely disappointing performance in last year's World Cup.
Ireland were ranked second in the world in 2006 but have dropped to eighth and it will be a tough challenge to raise that mark before the 2011 World Cup seedings are finalised at the end of the year.
Kidney's first task will be to prepare for an autumn series that includes Tests against the All Blacks and Argentina.