Rev John Weir, D.D. was brought up in rural Ulster around Lurgan and Banbridge, and appears to have attended church in Donacloney. His ‘first choice and scene of toil’ was the Second Congregation of Newry, a congregation of the Presbyterian Secession Synod. He was in post in 1836, but it is not known when he was originally called to the charge. Under his ministry a new building was erected between 1841 and 1843 in Downshire Road in the town, when the older church became crowded.
The Secession Synod had united with the Synod of Ulster at an historic meeting in Belfast in July 1840, a meeting at which the ‘cultured and busy’ John Weir was present – and also, interestingly, Revs Robert Murray M‘Cheyne, James Begg and Patrick MacFarlane from Scotland.
In 1844 Weir left Newry and in November of that year was inducted to Townsend Street Presbyterian Church in Belfast, a congregation ‘mainly composed of the artisans who are employed in forges, foundries, mills, and factories, and of their families, as well as large numbers of young persons engaged in the flax-spinning mills which abound in that particular district of Belfast.’ He was there for less than three years, however, moving to London in July 1847.
Weir was presumably still resident in England when his book The Ulster Awakening: An Account of the 1859 Revival in Ireland was published in 1860, he himself having witnessed and participated in the Revival when visiting Ireland.