THE hotel guests should have been leaving the picturesque town of Kinsale yesterday in anticipation of a great family wedding in February.
Instead, the 30 women who attended a 'hen' weekend in the Cork harbour town now face the prospect of a funeral for their friend and relative, Miriam Reidy (35).
Miriam's sister, Patricia (37), continues her fight for life from a suspected carbon-monoxide leak in a Cork hospital. Few could have suspected last Friday when the friends, relatives and workmates of bride-to-be Marie Reidy began to gather in Kinsale that a dream weekend break would quickly transform itself into a nightmare.
Marie -- who is to be married in a five weeks' time -- was being thrown a special 'hen' weekend by her friends and relatives.
The young woman was particularly close to her first cousins, Miriam and Patricia Reidy, both of whom hail from Ballyhahill in west Limerick.
Miriam worked for Allied Irish Bank in Killarney, Co Kerry, while Patricia works for a financial institution in Dublin.
Friends said they had been looking forward to Marie's 'hen' weekend throughout Christmas -- and no detail of the three-day break had been left to chance.
"They were all so excited about the weekend -- they wanted it to be a great weekend for Marie," one friend said.
The weekend included a special dinner on Saturday night. The women had also planned to do a little shopping.
The group was divided between two of Kinsale's best known hotels -- the White Lady and the Trident. While the bulk of the group were staying in the White Lady, the two Reidy sisters were staying in an upstairs bedroom in the Trident Hotel.
The owner of the White Lady, Ann Collins, said the entire group seemed to be having a wonderful time.
"They all seemed so happy -- so full of fun. We had a good number of the girls staying here with us and they were really having a wonderful time. We just cannot believe what happened -- everyone in the town is absolutely devastated," she said.
Up in the Trident Hotel, Miriam and Patricia's bedroom looked out over Kinsale harbour.
After Saturday night's celebrations, Miriam and Patricia returned to the Trident around 12.30am on Sunday morning -- and, after chatting in the lobby for a time, went upstairs after arranging to meet other members of the group for breakfast.
By 12 noon on Sunday, there was no sign of Miriam or Patricia and other members of the group started to get worried when they also failed to answer calls and texts to their mobiles.
Eventually, at 1pm it was decided to check on the sisters. Marie Reidy, a nurse, made the grim discovery alongside her sister, Mairead, and two friends, after hotel staff allowed them into the bedroom.
They desperately tried to revive the two women who were unresponsive on the floor but only Patricia showed signs of life. While Patricia was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, Miriam was pronounced dead at the scene.