After the Omagh bombing, it felt as though governments had 'lured' the people of Northern Ireland into a false sense of security only for it to be taken away overnight and the peace process stopped in its tracks.
That is according to Liz O'Donnell, who Ireland's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs at the time.
She played a key role in advancing peace talks in Northern Ireland, which ultimately led to the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking to As I Remember It: Bertie Ahern & The Good Friday Agreement, she said: "I felt that we had lured people into a feeling of security, we governments."
"And suddenly these people had been killed on an afternoon, a sunny afternoon in the summer."
In August 1998, a car bomb exploded in Omagh, killing 29 people and injuring 220.
Members of the Real IRA were told to plant a bomb outside a court house in Newry village, which was busy with traffic at the time as it was a Bank Holiday weekend.
They "panicked" and instead of putting it in the planned location, they put it at the end of the town.
"The warning came from others to clear the courthouse, so everybody left one end of the village and all came down to the other end of the village and stood there and that's where the bomb went off", Mr Ahern explained.
Recalling the incident and the events that followed, Ms O'Donnell said: "If being involved in the peace process was the best part of my career, Omagh broke my heart."
"The British government had demilitarised Northern Ireland. A lot of the towns like Omagh that had been fairly heavily securitised for many years, everything was just relaxed."
"I was bawling crying for hours."
The day before, Ms O'Donnell passed through the town on her way back to Dublin from a holiday home in Donegal.
"There were children eating ice creams ... beautiful weather in the middle of the summer holidays and [it was] just a lovely peaceful town in Northern Ireland."
She said that after the explosion the next day, they thought all their work to create peace had been reversed.
"Suddenly we were back dealing with picking up bodies", she said.
"It was the biggest atrocity of the Troubles and it was six months after we had all signed up for [the Good Friday Agreement]."
"I was totally heartbroken. I was bawling crying for hours."
As I Remember It
As I Remember It is a nine-part series that is now available on all streaming platforms.
Three episodes will be released each week throughout the run.
You can hear Episode One here: