Servite Trust (NI)

Servite Trust (NI)

The Priory
10 Main Street
BT71 7JZ
United Kingdom

Opening Hours


The Servite Priory in Benburb, Co Tyrone, is an open religious community. Established in 1949, it has a long established open door policy and a firm commitment to facilitating and enabling community development, good relations and peace-building, and the

Servite Priory Library and Museum Project

The Servite Priory Library and Museum Project is an extremely exciting development which aims to create an environment where the widest possible range of individuals and groups can participate in and benefit from interactive experiences which will enhance their knowledge, appreciation and understanding of culture and heritage in an ongoing and enjoyable way.

The library and museum is not about the promotion of religion, but is a unique, rare and valuable cultural heritage treasure and repository of knowledge which will be used to tell the story of the heritage and life of monasticism in Europe and locally within Benburb. 

The library and museum will also develop and exhibit in creative and innovative ways that inspire and engage the widest possible audiences: the story of the Calns of O’Neill, the Wingfield/ Powerscourt family (as part of the plantation of Ulster) and the Bawn on the site of the O’Neill Castle; the subsequent activities of landlord James Bruce including the building of a Manor House and the remodelling of Benburb village; the role and importance of the Manor House as a World War II War Hospital for American and British Troops injured in combat. It will also be home to the O’Neill Country Historical Society’s extensive journal and local history collection. 

At the heart of the library, museum and archive collection are the rare, unique and valuable Servite and Marian Collections, as well as the Servite archives detailing the Order's activities in Britain and Ireland dating back over 200 years.  These collections reflect the story of the origins of the Order and its journey in time and place since its foundation in Florence in 1233 AD by its Seven Founding Fathers right up to the present time.  The establishment of the dedicated museum, library and archive will permit the interpretation and presentation of the collections to the public locally and further afield for the first time ever.  It will see rare texts and artefacts dating back to 1588 being unveiled to the community, public and scholars.  (Please see Appendix 1 for the Collection Conservation Report Executive Summary, and Appendix 2 for the anticipated cost for the planned conservation and preservation work for the first three years of the project, and the anticipated cost for the proposed 10 year conservation and preservation management and maintenance plan for the collection).

The library and archive collection at the Servite Priory Benburb is unique within Ireland and Great Britain. It is extensive (approx. 20,000 volumes) and includes two valuable collections, the Servite collection and the Marian collection, as well as extensive archival material and artefacts. It also includes a large collection of general religious and theological books and periodicals and a collection of Irish literature. This latter collection will form part of the O’Neill collection being currently developed, covering the history of the O’Neill Clans, and the rich and significant local history of the area from pre-Plantation until today.

The library collections are currently housed in 5 disparate and unsatisfactory locations within the Priory with inadequate temperature or humidity control or security. They are poorly catalogued and some of the books are in need of urgent repair and conservation.

A Management Board was established in 2011 under the chairmanship of Professor Gerry McKenna MRIA, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster, to examine the potential conservation and development of the library and its holdings with a view to making them accessible to scholars, researchers, local interest groups and the general public.

The development of the Servite Library and Museum will bring together and present a number of strands of heritage which are unique to Benburb and the Priory estate.

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  • Jason Donaghy