Airfield shows off €11m facelift

by Gazette Reporter

AIRFIELD House in Dundrum will reopen to the public on October 30 after an upgrade and refurbishment project costing €11m.

Overends Cafe opened as Airfield House launched the first phase of the reopening at the popular tourist and cultural attraction. The entire estate will be available to the public next spring.

The 38-acre urban farm closed in autumn 2011 for construction works to be carried out.

This work involved enhancing the visitor experience and ensuring that facilities were adequate to secure the site.

Grainne Millar, head of visitor experience at Airfield, said: “We’re delighted to welcome back our many visitors, friends, and members to Airfield as we now begin to re-open the estate on a phased basis.

“The first phase will see the opening of the new entrance at Overend Way, the car park and our brand-new Overends Cafe, which will be a showcase for food produced on the estate, as well as by suppliers sharing our values.

“We have also developed a wonderful interactive heritage experience in the Overend family home, which brings to life the many stories about our benefactors – Letitia and Naomi Overend – based on the family archive of more than 20,000 documents and 7,000 photographic images, which are now housed in Castletown House, Leixlip,” she said.

“We’ve also been busy creating a new kitchen garden and a new farmyard and dairy to house and care for our animals, including the famous Jersey herd, and these will be opening next spring.

“In the meantime, we will continue to work in these areas throughout the winter and expect to reopen a nature walk of about 1km around the farm before the end of the year.

“Some of our farm animals are also making their way back, and we will provide as much opportunity as we can for children to reacquaint themselves with them.

“We are all excited at the prospect of welcoming back our old friends, as well as having the opportunity to greet new faces, so that we can show off all the hard work that’s gone on during the closure,” said Millar.

From October 30, the public will have access to a substantial part of the estate, including the heritage experience and the formal gardens around the family home. By November, the more tranquil country lanes around the farm will become available to public access.

Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said: “I am delighted that Airfield is opening its gates to the public later this month.

“I have had many queries from people of all ages and I know there will be a general air of excitement during the first few weeks of its opening. I wish them every success and trust the refurbishment will have been worth every cent.”

Airfield was left in trust by Letitia and Naomi Overend to be used for education and recreation purposes. The new interactive heritage experience is on the ground floor of the house, with an interactive display of selected materials and stories from the family archive.

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