The Airfield Archive

Repository: Maynooth University Library

Identity Statement

TitleThe Airfield Archive
Archive ReferenceIE MU/PP/AIR
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1802-2004
Extent Mediumc25,000 items


Creator(s): Overend family of Dundrum, South Dublin

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Airfield Archive consists of the private papers of the extended Overend family and their house and farm named Airfield, in Dundrum, South Dublin. Trevor Overend (1847 - 1919), a successful Dublin Solicitor with a practice and home at 12 Ely Place, Dublin, bought the house at Airfield and eight acres of land in 1894 as a country retreat for his family; his wife Elizabeth Anne (Lily) Butler (1854-1945) and his daughters Letitia (1880 -1977) and Naomi (1900-1993). Over the years Lily Overend made shrewd purchases of various properties on her doorstep including Rockfield and Riversdale, adding to the farm. With the purchase of neighbouring Eden Farm in 1964, the Overend sisters, Letitia and Naomi doubled the size of their holdings, bringing the estate to over forty acres. Despite being made generous offers over the years, the Overends refused to sell any of the property for development and established the Dromartin Estates Company in 1964 to administer their financial and property interests. When Naomi Overend died in 1993 the estate was left in Trust for use for educational and recreational purposes. Letitia Lily Anne Letham Overend, born in 1880, was the first child of Trevor and Lily Overend. She became a member of the Alexandra College Division of the Saint John Ambulance Brigade in 1913 and when war broke out the following year, she and her colleagues were quick to join up as Voluntary Aid Detachments for the War effort. Letitia was stationed at the Irish War Hospital Supply Depot, in Merrion Square, for the duration of the war. The depot was a joint initiative between the Saint John Ambulance Brigade and the British Red Cross and sent vital supplies to hospitals in Ireland, Britain, France and Belgium, for the care of injured servicemen. Lily also contributed, setting up a Work Guild at the house at Airfield, making bandages and clothing to send to the front. Letitia’s involvement with the Saint John Ambulance Brigade was to continue for the rest of her life. She became Chief Superintendent of the Nursing Division and was created Dame of Justice for the Order of Saint John in 1955. Through her work with the Saint John Ambulance Brigade, Letitia became friends with Doctor Ella Webb. Doctor Webb had long been involved in providing medical assistance to improvised families through her work at the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin. She had a keen interest in child welfare, recognising that many diseases were caused by poverty and malnutrition. With this in mind, Webb set about establishing the Children’s Sunshine Home, in Stillorgan enlisting Letitia Overend’s help. The home was established in 1925, as a convalescent home for children suffering from rickets. Letitia worked tirelessly as a fundraiser for the home and acted as a member of its management committee up until her retirement in 1961. Naomi Lethem Overend was born at Airfield in 1900. Despite the twenty year age gap, the two sisters remained close throughout their lives. Naomi too shared an interest in public duty. As a child she became a member of the Children’s League of Pity, a junior branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, organising fundraising events at Airfield for the Dundrum branch of the League. This interest extended into adulthood with Naomi taking part in the Dundrum branch of the Women’s National Health Association, later becoming the President of the branch.
  • Archival History ↴

    The Airfield Archive is currenly on loan from the Airfield Trust to Maynooth University and is kept at the OPW-Maynooth University Archive and Research Centre at Castltown.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Permanent Loan

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Overend family of Dundrum, South Dublin ↴

    The Airfield Archive consists of over 25 thousand unique items, including 7,500 photographs. It includes large collections of letters, diaries, registers, notebooks, invoices, financial accounts, scrapbooks, postcards, maps, newspaper cuttings, slides and photographs, collected and retained by the Overend family. It also comprises items dating from the early 19th century from the Gray and Butler families and from the mid 19th century for the Letham and Overend families, including images, diaries and letters of individuals from each of these families, giving an insight into their daily lives.
    The main part of the collection dates from the later 19th century and the 20th century. This includes documents of Trevor and Lily Overend, their siblings and daughters.
    Documents of interest include the love letters of Trevor and Lily Overend, before and during their marriage, their letters to their daughters Letitia and Naomi as children, and letters and diaries of their Aunts Helen Bulter, Fanny Butler and Minnie Overend.
    There are also a large number of documents belonging to T.B.G (Tommy) Overend, including his detailed diaries of his life in India, his letters home and documents relating to his business affairs.
    In addition to the family papers, Letitia and Naomi Overend also kept a large number of items relating to their hobbies, interests and philanthropic works, which make up a valuable piece of social history of the period. Most notable are the records of the Irish War Hospital Supply Depot, including a letter book with requests for supplies from army hospitals in France, Belgium and Britain (PP/AIR/2464), the Dundrum branch of the Woman’s National Health Association, the Saint John Ambulance Brigade and the Children’s Sunshine Home. Also of interest are the letters of Fanny Butler during the 1916 rising in Dublin and her subsequent letters to the army lieutenant who was stationed in her garden (PP/AIR/98), letters to Lily Overend from young men fighting in World War I (PP/AIR/907-917), a register of members of the Alexandra College Nursing Division who became V.A.D.’s (PP/AIR/2426), Minnie Overend’s diary of her life in Egypt (PP/AIR/242), letters from Jack B. and Lily Yeats (PP/AIR/985) and a register of members of the Dundrum branch of the Children’s League of Pity (PP/AIR/2824).
    The Overend sisters also kept a large number of documents relating to their hobbies including cars, travel, gardening and the farm. Included in the travel documents are photographs, booklets, correspondence, postcards, tickets and ephemera picked up along that way, including items from Letitia Overend’s World Tour with the British Medical Association in 1935, and Naomi Overend’s trip to India in 1936 and to Australia and New Zealand in 1956. They also kept documents relating to Gilbert and Sullivan operas and the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, including programmes and photographs and letters from their friends in the Opera Company, Dorothy Gill and Marjorie Eyre.
    Documents relating to cars and vintage car rallies include: correspondence, invoices, notebooks, flyers, newsletters, expenditure books, programmes for rallies and a series of documents relating to Letitia Overend’s Rolls Royce including the original guarantee for the car issued by Rolls Royce Limited on the 9th of June 1927 (PP/AIR/3152).
    The Archive also contains documents relating to the farm at Airfield, including correspondence, invoices, notebooks, photographs and files on milk production and the Jersey herd.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    As much of the original order of this collection was lost, it has now been arranged by individual or function and then arranged chronologically by document type. Documents have been divided by family or creating organisations consisting of the Gray, Butler, Letham, Barton and Overend families. Organisations include The Irish War Hospital Supply Depot, the Saint John Ambulance Brigade, the Children’s Sunshine Home, the Woman’s National Health Association and other Charities. Where necessary sections are further divided into sub-sections by function and document type.
    Due to her close association with the family, documents relating to Emily Provis have been arranged with the Overend family papers. Correspondence has been arranged with the papers of the recipient, with the exception of official correspondence received by Letitia Overend in her role in the Saint John Ambulance Brigade and the Children’s Sunshine Home. This has been arranged with the papers of the organisation. Letters addressed to both Letitia and Naomi Overend have been arranged with Letitia’s correspondence. Official papers relating to the purchase, valuation and management of property have been placed together as the papers of the Dromartin Estates Company and Airfield Trust, which also includes financial and legal papers relating to Airfield.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Access by appoinment with the Archivist
Conditions Governing ReproductionNo reproduction allowed
Creation Dates1802-2004
Extent Mediumc25,000 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive List Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Publication NoteSources:; Burkes Irish Family Records, 5th Edition, 1976; Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press, 2009

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteC Joyce, September 2014
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions2014