Two lifelong friends died over a cup of tea after apparently being overcome by fumes from a suspected gas leak.
The distraught daughter-in-law of Annie ‘Nan' Gallagher (84) found the mother-of-six dead in an armchair, with a cup still in her hand, after calling to her home.
Mary Gallagher also found Sally McDyre (79) on the floor of the living room at the house two miles from Glenties, Co Donegal.
Attempts by paramedics to revive her failed and both women were pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday evening.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at Letterkenny General Hospital yesterday evening to accompany the bodies home to Glenties.
Gardai believe that the women had been overcome by fumes, most likely from a gas cooker in the adjoining kitchen of the open-plan room.
Sally's niece, Mary Nichols, said her aunt may have realised that there was something wrong with her friend and had got up from her seat to go over to her when she too collapsed into unconsciousness.
“Nobody can believe it. It's like something you would read about in a book. You just think it's too strange to be true,” she said.
The bodies were removed to Letterkenny General Hospital where post-mortems were conducted yesterday.
Gardai carried out a detailed forensic examination of the sealed-off home throughout yesterday, but would not release the results of the post mortem examinations last night.
A representative from Bord Gais was also at the scene carrying out an examination of all the appliances at the house.
Ms McDyre had returned to her native town four years ago after living and working in London for over 40 years.
But despite being just weeks away from celebrating her 80th birthday she continued to be very active and loved to shop and dance, according to her shocked niece.
“Aunty Sally was so strong. She was the kind of person you would see making it well into her nineties. She was a very strong woman in every way, personality wise and health wise,” she said.
One local man said: “Everybody is in shock. It was so simple the way it happened.
“Even though they were in advanced years, they were two healthy women and both were well looked out for by family.”
Local curate, Father Shane Gallagher, said the people of Glenties were deeply impacted by the tragedy.
“This is a very dark moment for a close-knit community,” he said.