The raid, which occurred in the village of Clonalvy on the Dublin/Meath border, was one of three raids across Meath and Dublin in just over 24 hours.
Polish man Andrzej Marczuk was sitting in his home on Wednesday morning when the two raiders smashed in through his front door and held a knife to his throat.
"He kept shouting for keys of a car," Mr Marczuk said. He has a number of cars parked in his yard that he is fixing up, and the men grabbed the keys to a 2006 Mitsubishi Space Wagon.
But the car broke down on the way up a hill, and the two men ditched it and ran.
"The guys then took to the fields behind the church and were running towards an abandoned house," said a local man.
"The garda helicopter arrived and was flying very low over the area. Then garda in cars came and arrested them."
The hapless thieves struck Clonalvy on Wednesday morning, but were soon out of their depth.
"They ran into the local shop and post office, and jumped over the counter before getting behind the post office screens and holding a knife to the assistant," one local said.
"But some of the shop workers saw what was happening and rushed to help. The two raiders were quickly outnumbered and started to panic.
"They ran from the shop and dropped the money on the floor on their way out."
Postmistress Ger McGuinness was left shocked by the raid.
But the drama did not end there.
The armed robbers jumped into their getaway car, but could not start it, and a villager succeeded in breaking a window of the stranded vehicle.
The raiders fled down the road to Mr Marczuk's house where they hijacked his car.
The two criminals -- believed to be from Santry and Coolock -- are in their 20s were arrested at about 11am on the same morning.
One was released without charge on Thursday night.