Terrible conditions made handling difficult throughout, but as the game went on England's scrum established devastating superiority over Ireland's, and the hosts scored two tries - one a penalty try, the other from Ben Youngs - as they ran out emphatic winners.
Stuart Lancaster will now be considered hot favourite to take the England coach's job full time, while Ireland will be grateful to have the summer to consider the problems in their pack that saw them beaten so comprehensively.
The heavens opened on Twickenham minutes before the game began, and the wet weather made for slippery conditions that made running rugby difficult, with handling errors threatening to outnumber completed passes at times.
The goal kicking of England's Owen Farrell would also be a key factor, with the fly-half needing just two minutes to land his first penalty as Ireland were penalised for wheeling the first penalty of the match.
Rob Kearney almost levelled the scores with an audacious drop goal attempt from 45 metres that hit the post after 12 minutes, but just four minutes later it was 3-3 as Brad Barritt hacked at a loose ball while well offside.
Ireland gave away two more penalties through the indiscipline of Eoin Reddan, kicking the ball out of a scrum, Rory Best, putting hands in the ruck, with Farrell ruthless in knocking both chances over for points.
But the home side were not immune to similar mistakes, risking the referee's wrath by running down the clock before half-time and eventually conceding a penalty that Sexton kicked cleanly through.
The second half initially promised more of the same as Farrell and Sexton again exchanged penalties, with conditions still awful - and costing England a certain try as Tom Croft unaccountably dropped the ball while charging towards the line.
But it was the loss of Mike Ross in Ireland's front row changed the game as England began to destroy Ireland at the scrum.
A series of penalties in the Ireland 22m yielded an inevitable penalty try with 21 minutes left to play that, at 19-9, put England in command of the match.
And another England drive forcing Ireland's front row to stand up brought another penalty six minutes later that seemingly put the game beyond doubt.
Keith Earls almost hit on the breakaway from the restart, but when he was stopped Tomas O'Leary's chip out to Jamie Heaslip on the right flank failed to find its target.
England tightened things up thereafter, keeping the ball close and driving carefully and using that advantage up front to set up a penalty six minutes from the end, which was taken quickly by replacement scrum-half Youngs to score.
Farrell missed the conversion from the touchline, his only blemish in an outstanding performance.
But he made up with it by adding another penalty two minutes from time to complete England's victory - as well as close out a superb first Six Nations for himself, and a horrific St Patrick's Day for the visitors.