Just at the time when this great awakening was commencing in America, namely in September 1857, four young men (James McQuilkin, Jeremiah McNeilly, John Wallace andRobert Carlisle)began to meet together for special prayer in the north of Ireland; this was at Connor, county Antrim. Their immediate object was to seek that the preaching of the Gospel might be eminently blessed to the Connor congregation, and that their labours and those of others in connection with the prayer meetings and Sunday-schools, throughout the district, might also be eminently owned of God; soon others joined them; prayer, fervent prayer persevering, was offered. For some time it was simply the prayer of faith and hope; the answer was not as yet given; at length it came; one and another were converted; general attention began to be excited. It became known throughout the district that conversions, and these many of them striking in their character, had taken place. The customary prayer-meeting were thronged, and others were instituted. A seriousness pervaded the neighbourhood, deep solemnity attended the religious services, numbers flocked to them conversions multiplied. And as an almost necessary consequence those who had previously been walking in the faith of our Lord were refreshed and revived. The great characteristic of this awakening from the beginning, as had been that in America was prayer. Meetings for prayer were multiplied. The great thought among those awakened, seemed everywhere to be, that they should gather together for prayer. Such was the origin of what we may now speak of, as the religious awakening in Ireland. The time of its commencement too, cannot fail to be observed. In the very month in which the work began in America, this movement commenced in Ireland. In both countries the general features were the same; the work was one; surely the Lord was in mercy beginning to visit his people, that his salvation might with renewed vividness and power, be openly showed in the sight of the nations
Although McQuilkin was the brand who started things going; his minister, S J Moore organised many prayer meetings and created an environment in the church whereby the Lord could move powerfully.