It should have been the happiest of times, but it ended in terrible anguish and the silence of two towns coming to terms with a double tragedy.
Just a few weeks ago, best friends Marion Graham and Kathy Dinsmore had left Northern Ireland for a dream holiday in Turkey.
Last night they came home, together again, but in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
The final leg of a long and painful journey was completed when the two women were brought back to their native Co Down.
Two grieving families, who had been looking forward to welcoming home loved ones, were instead faced with the grim task of receiving coffins and preparing funerals.
Marion and Kathy, who were aged in their 50s, were viciously stabbed to death in woods near Izmir on Turkey's western seaboard last Thursday.
The boyfriend of Mrs Graham's 15-year-old daughter Shannon, Recep Cetin, has reportedly confessed to both killings.
As the Turkish police continued to piece together the events leading up to the murders last night, the women's remains were arriving home.
Their bodies had been released from a mortuary in Izmir and taken to Kusadasi, from where they were flown to Ireland yesterday.
The plane touched down at Dublin airport around 1.20pm, before two hearses took the victims on the final leg of their journey home.
The sad procession was accompanied by police on both sides of the border, along with a cavalcade of 10 cars carrying grieving relatives, including Shannon.
After reaching Co Down, Ms Graham's remains were taken to a funeral parlour in Newry.
The hearses parted in the town, with the two women taken to separate undertakers.
Mary McAuley was waiting for the procession near the Buttercrane shopping centre in Newry, where the convoy split.
"She was a lovely lady, just so kind and well-thought of locally," she recalled. It is such a shame, everybody is shocked, we just cannot take in what happened.
"Your heart goes out for their family. It is unimaginable what they are going through."
A private service for Ms Graham was held last night, attended by several dozen close friends.
Then, just before 9pm and with darkness dropping over Newry, the hearse pulled out on to the street and began the short journey across the city. Minutes later it arrived at Marion's Toragh Park home, where more people had gathered.
Meanwhile, the light was fading in the small village of Mayobridge as the body of Kathy Dinsmore finally returned home. Her dream holiday had ended in a nightmare with many people in south Down still feeling they had not woken up to the tragic reality.
Kathy's body had made the journey from Warrenpoint to her brother's house five miles from Newry just before 9.30pm.
Family friend Sean O'Hare said it had been "an emotional week".
"It is a very sad day, not only for the family of Kathy, but for the whole community and area," he said. Mr O'Hare will be among the many mourners who will attend the two funerals, which will be held back-to-back so that both sets of grieving relatives can pay their final respects.
Ms Dinsmore's funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon in St Peter's Church, Warrenpoint.