Lottery boost allows Co Tyrone priory to open up its unique library

Ancient books are included in the library
Ancient books are included in the library

A treasure trove of rare books - some of them more than 400 years old - will be conserved and opened to the public with the help of a Lottery windfall of almost £750,000.

The library of 20,000 books, archives and artefacts has been collected over centuries and is held in the Servite Priory in Benburb, Co Tyrone.

It includes a number of valuable collections, with unique material dating back to the 16th century.

As well as the monastic heritage, the volumes also detail local history from pre-Plantation times up to the present day.

The books and artefacts are currently spread over five disjointed sites within the grounds of the priory. The three-year project will establish an interactive library, museum and coffee shop in the Victorian Stables at the priory, which will be restored to house the new facilities.

It has been made possible by a grant of £733,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Benburb Prior Fr Gabriel Bannon, said: “This is a timely and very welcome boost to the priory. It will restore and make accessible the wonderful book collections and artefacts to people of all ages as well as restoring the Stables area and providing up to date meeting facilities for various community groups that are dependent on the priory.”