Title favourites Ireland survived a major scare at the Millennium Stadium before launching their RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign in successful fashion.
First-half tries from hooker Rory Best - he touched down after just 47 seconds - and captain Brian O'Driscoll gave Ireland a winning platform.
But they were pushed to the limit by a resilient Wales side who stayed in contention through three Stephen Jones penalties.
The game though, produced a low skill factor and high error count as it failed to match expectations following resounding victories recorded by Six Nations pacesetters England and France on Saturday.
A scoreless third quarter emphasised a distinctly average contest, and although Wales occasionally flickered through scrum-half Dwayne Peel and full-back Kevin Morgan, the game proved a pale shadow of their 2005 Grand Slam-clinching success against the same opponents.
Wales went into battle without injured backs Shane Williams, Tom Shanklin and Mark Jones, while Gareth Thomas' four-week suspension meant coach Gareth Jenkins had limited resources behind the scrum.
It took Ireland until the 72nd minute to finally grind Wales down, when fly-half Ronan O'Gara squeezed over in the corner despite a despairing James Hook tackle.
O'Gara slotted his second successful conversion to open up a 10-point gap, yet Ireland will need to show a considerable improvement when they face France at Croke Park in Dublin next Sunday.
Wales, meanwhile, head to Scotland later this week with their Six Nations season finely balanced, having seen any hopes of a Grand Slam or Triple Crown disappear without trace.