In 2016–17, the Foundation was part of a team which delivered a major new exhibition at the Servite Priory, Benburb, County Tyrone. The origins of this project went back to 2009 when a small group of people met to look into refurbishing the old stable-block at the Priory as a library and archive. This meeting resulted in the Benburb Library and Museum Project. In 2011 a Project Management Board was established and successful applications were made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012 and 2014. The new facility opened to the public in 2017.

The exhibition tells the story of the Servite at Benburb from their arrival in 1948 to the present day and their collections of books and manuscripts. The Servite Collections at Benburb are divided into two main sections – the Archives and the Library. The Servite Order (Province of the Isles) Archives includes the records of 16 Servite communities and the personal records of about 300 friars, as well as photographs and architectural plans. The Library contains around 20,000 volumes with the oldest books dating back to the early 1500s.

Benburb exhibition reduced

In addition, the exhibition tells the broader story of the site over the last millennium. In late sixteenth century, Benburb was controlled by the O’Neills, notably Shane O’Neill. In the early 1600s Benburb was granted to Sir Richard Wingfield as part of the scheme for the Ulster Plantation. In the late nineteenth century a wealthy Belfast distiller named James Bruce bought the Benburb estate and built the Manor House (now the Priory). During the Second World War the Manor House was used as a military hospital, first of all by the British and then by the Americans.

  • Benburb exhibition
  • Benburb Priory photo