Couple and baby forced to sleep in Dundrum centre as blizzards wreak havoc
A young couple with a baby were among shoppers and workers forced to stay in Dundrum Town Centre overnight due to severe weather conditions.
The couple, from Tallaght, and their child who is less than a year-old, were given a baby changing room to sleep in and supplied with sleeping bags and supplies by centre management.
Two people from Roundwood and a couple from Carlow were also offered sleeping facilities in the restaurant area, and seven members of staff from A-Wear also stayed in their shop.
Centre manager Don Nugent said the people had no option because of the bad weather, and everything was done to make their stay as comfortable as possible as other drivers abandoned their cars and walked home.
Traffic came to a standstill around the suburb and in nearby Sandyford. The chaos was mirrored in other southside suburbs such as Blackrock, Foxrock and Dun Laoghaire.
Cars were abandoned on the M50 slip-road at Ballinteer, as well as in housing estates around Dundrum village and nearby Nutgrove and Milltown.
Ten-kilometre journeys that would usually take 15 minutes took more than two-and- a-half hours last night and many shoppers simply left their cars in the Dundrum Town Centre car park and walked home.
There were even reports of people sleeping in their cars, but gardai could not confirm it, saying that abandoned vehicles were the main concern for traffic.
The trouble started at around 4pm when falling snow quickly made the M50 treacherous around Dundrum, which is situated in a hilly area of south Dublin at the foot of the Dublin mountains.
Cars trying to exit the M50 off-ramps were sliding back down them, making driving very dangerous.
Traffic around Dundrum became particularly bad after a truck jack-knifed on the M50, affecting incoming and outgoing traffic from the centre.
Yellow-box junctions also became invisible with snow, leading to gridlocked roundabouts and traffic chaos.
A bus also had to be moved from the middle of the village while the roads remained ungritted.
Dundrum Town Centre said it would not charge customers for overnight parking after traffic came to a standstill around the building.
More than 100 shoppers left their cars in the centre and decided to walk or get public transport home. A scarcity of hotels and B&Bs in the area also meant shoppers and commuters had no option but to try to get out of the area because there was nowhere to stay overnight.
Some shoppers used the nearby Luas service to travel to the city centre and then used Dublin Bus services to try and get home.
While many of the shops in the town centre were due to remain open until 11pm last night, many closed their doors earlier to give staff an opportunity to try to get home, but even when they left they found themselves stuck in traffic.