Referee Dave Pearson made the decision 10 minutes before kick-off on Saturday night as some areas of the Stade de France pitch in Paris were dangerous after being hardened by days of sub-zero temperatures.
Fans were infuriated by the late call - the surface had passed an inspection just 90 minutes earlier - and O'Connell insists the players were equally frustrated.
The team emerged for a run-out shortly after the decision had been announced, but O'Connell revealed even this was cut short.
"Guys were pumped up and they just wanted to do a little bit of fitness," said the Munster second row.
"Unfortunately the crowd then gathered and we were asked to leave because it was thought that if we left, the crowd might leave.
"We only ended up getting half a session done so that's just the way it was - a bizarre end to a strange day."
O'Connell insists Ireland were caught by surprise by Pearson's decision as they were on the brink of making their entrance on to the pitch.
"I was aware there was a patch on the pitch that wasn't in the best condition," he said.
"During the warm-up once or twice I caught a glimpse of (coach) Declan Kidney and a few officials down there, but I was still fairly sure it was going to go ahead.
"We'd prepared that way and everyone else was preparing that way.
"Sometimes you say you're preparing but you kind of know it's not going ahead.
"We were fairly sure that it was going to go ahead and I'd say it was 30 or 60 seconds before we went out that the ref came in and said it's not going to go ahead."
Ireland coach Declan Kidney understands why Pearson made his call and refuses to blame the official.
"It's a very difficult situation where one man has to decide on 70,000 people all ready to watch a match, 30 players all ready to go and then whether the pitch is safe or not," he said.
"We had done our research before we came over - the Six Nations rules are that it's at the sole discretion of the referee. He had to make his call.
"We walked the part of the pitch that he was concerned with and I understand why he made his call.
"Down that bottom right-hand corner, if you were running at full pace, it would have been quite difficult to turn and the nature of rugby is that balls are nudged into the corner. You could have got away with it, but who's to know?
"I'm very disappointed for the supporters. I'm disappointed for the players, but I'd be more disappointed if I was sitting in hospital with somebody who had a very bad injury."
The International Rugby Board issued a statement backing Pearson's decision to postpone the match.
"We support Dave Pearson over the decision he made in deeming the Stade de France pitch to be unplayable," read the statement.
"Player welfare and safety is the primary concern for the IRB and its match officials.
"Having witnessed and assessed the rapid deterioration of the playing surface between the final pitch inspection and the scheduled kick-off time, and following consultation with the match official team, both coaches and championship organisers, Pearson deemed the pitch unplayable on player welfare grounds."
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