Helping hand: Jess O'Sullivan (left) and Annabel Hogan

The suddenness of last week's snowfalls forced some people to avail of the kindness of strangers – or even old friends – by becoming snow orphans, or 'snorphans' for the night.

The internet is awash with stories of how ordinary people opened their doors and offered a bed to stranded motorists.

One such refugee from the snow was 28-year-old Annabel Hogan, a pharmaceutical sales representative, who hit snow-induced gridlock on the relatively short drive from Arklow to her home in Islandbridge in Dublin last Monday evening.

"I left Arklow at about 6pm. I didn't know it was snowing so badly in Dublin. I hadn't heard it on the radio. The sun had been shining in Arklow and there was no sign of snow," she said.

Within an hour, traffic had come to a standstill.

"I came down by the Sandyford roundabout and there were literally cars struggling to get up the hill towards Sandyford. There was an articulated lorry just parked up on the side – it couldn't move."

"Then the traffic began to get really bad. It was crazy. I was ringing my friends from A to Z, just for company, someone to talk to. I think some of the exit roads were just gridlocked, people had nowhere to go and were just stubbornly staying on one main route. The roads were so icy. A car in front of me was driving along, and the traffic lights changed and it did a 90 degree turn, there was so little control."

By now, Hogan was already an hour on the road, and what was typically a 60-90 minute drive to her home was clearly going to take a lot longer.

By 10pm, three hours later, the traffic had barely moved more than a couple of miles.

Hogan began to give up all hope of driving home, and contemplated abandoning her car to try to get the Luas into the city.

However, she remembered that an old friend she hadn't seen for a long time lived in nearby Clonskeagh.

So she put in a call, and by declaring her 'snorphan' status was given refuge from the snow.

"We were happy to have her, one of the girls had made stew and we ended up having great chats," one of the inhabitants of the house, Jess O'Sullivan, explained.

"She's actually my housemate Aoife's old friend from college. She just realised that she wouldn't get home, and that we were the only people in the vicinity she knew... She had literally given up all hope of getting home. Instead she was able to set off the next morning refreshed; it was just nice to know she was okay."

With hundreds of drivers getting stranded in the snow last week, there have been countless stories of how people pitched in to help.

A dozen weary travellers sought shelter at Dundrum Town Centre on Dublin's southside while volunteers across the capital, armed with shovels and salt, helped to free motorists whose cars were stuck in the snow.