Role Model Farm: The Philanthropic Legacy of the Overend Sisters of Airfield Estate - The Gloss Magazine

Role Model Farm: The Philanthropic Legacy of the Overend Sisters of Airfield Estate

At Airfield Estate in Dundrum, the philanthropic legacy of sisters Letitia and Naomi Overend lives on …

Sisters Letitia and Naomi Overend grew up at Airfield Estate and farm in Dundrum in south Dublin in the early 1900s, enjoying an idyllic and comfortable life with parents Trevor and Lily. As children, the sisters learned the value and the pleasure to be gained from working hard, helping out on the farm and in the gardens. So when Trevor Overend died, leaving his fortune to his wife and daughters, the sisters, in control of their own finances, embedded their lives and work firmly in Airfield and the welfare of the surrounding community.

They developed the estate and farm, breeding Jersey cattle, employing local workers. The sisters had the freedom and the wherewithal to enjoy their lives to the full and both played golf, skied and travelled abroad. They shared a love of motorcars and Letitia’s lovingly maintained 1927 Rolls Royce Twenty Tourer and Naomi’s 1936 Austin 18 Tickford are still on view at Airfield today. But they were far from extravagant. They bought once and bought for life. All food was grown or raised on the farm, everything was cooked from scratch and nothing was wasted. Beautiful trees were their investments, careful stewardship of the land and animals and the welfare of the community they lived in were paramount. Over several decades, these socially responsible women made generous contributions to local charities, including St John’s Ambulance and The Sunshine Home (now Laura Lynn) in Leopardstown.

In 1974, in an incredible gesture, the Overend sisters bequeathed Airfield to the Irish people, stipulating the estate was to be used for “education and recreation”. And that is precisely what has happened. Airfield’s Board, Trust and team ensure it remains a model for organic horticulture and regenerative farming, with sustainability at its very heart. A thriving Farmers Market takes place every Friday and Saturday and a comprehensive education programme includes educational activities and workshops for primary and secondary level schoolchildren, and adult courses too, in gardening and cooking.

You can also visit the Overends’ charming Victorian house, and learn more about these inspiring women. The community spirit of the sisters endures. From November to March, school groups who walk to Airfield get free entry; children can gather eggs from the chicken coops and have tea and freshly baked bread from the bakery.

Over almost 40 glorious green acres, Airfield offers the opportunity to stroll through the gardens, visit the farm, enjoy the childrens play areas, have lunch in Overends Kitchen. In every season, for every visitor, there is so much to be enjoyed. And it’s all thanks to Letitia and Naomi Overend and their magnificent gift to the nation. Find out more and plan your visit at

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