As the officer in charge of Communications Joseph Plunkett realised very early in the planning that the rebels would need some form of communications to keep in touch with the country. In the city runners and bicycle couriers could move around the city with news and orders but the British forces would make this impossible for the rest of the country. He also knew that the British would destroy the facilities rather than allow them to fall into rebel hands so his men would have to move quickly to seize the operations. Plunkett wanted to seize some telegraphs stations in order to communicate with his forces but he also wanted to destroy others so that the British would not be able to call in re-enforcements or direct troops to flash points. While some men were detailed to establish communications for the rebellion, Kimmage Garrison men like The King Brothers and Richard Mulcahy were charged with destroying them. The leaders of the rebellion had been gathering a file on British communications for some time with the assistance of an informer within the Post Office. The King Brothers, George and Paddy went to Lombard Street and Palace Street to cut telephone and telegraph wires, while Richard Mulcahy cut the lines at Raheny, the direct line to British forces stationed in Belfast.
Michael King was charged with blowing the manhole covers and destroying the equipment at the Central Telephone Exchange but with the countermanding orders his men failed to show. This was important and it was reported to Pearse and Connolly who despatched a small force of men to seize the exchange but these also failed. With the direct line to London cut and under the assumption that the rebels had either seized or destroyed all other valuable communications, the British Army’s number two Colonel Cowan needed to find a way to communicate with Downing Street and the War Office to inform them of the rebellion and to request reinforcements. At this point the British did not know how extensive the rebellion was throughout the country or how many rebels were involved but they would have assumed from the Howth incident and the Kerry incidents that the rebellion would be quite large. A junior officer in Cowan’s command volunteered to make the dangerous journey, on a bicycle and in disguise, to Kingstown Harbour (now Dun Laoghaire) on the south side of the city. Just after one p.m. the officer reached the naval wireless station in Kingstown Harbour and ten minutes later the news was despatched to London. With the bulk of their internal and external communications severed or in rebel hands, Dublin was further from London than Beijing was from New York.
The rebel forces failure to seize the telephone exchange played on Plunkett’s mind in the first hours of the rebellion. The losses in Kerry also made him uncomfortable. Plunkett summoned Fergus O’Kelly and instructed him to take six men and seize Reis’s Chambers on the corner of Middle Abbey Street and O’Connell Street. Housed within this building was The Irish School of Wireless Telegraphy.