Armed gardaí manned checkpoints across west Cork last night as officers urged members of the public not to approach the gang.
The drama unfolded at the Bank of Ireland branch on Market Street in Skibbereen at about 11.30am.
The raiders double-parked a stolen dark grey Audi on the one-way street before bursting into the bank, ordering staff to lie on the floor.
One was armed with a shotgun, which he had stashed inside an umbrella, and the other was armed with what is believed to be an air rifle. Both were wearing balaclavas.
There were three customers inside. One man was forced down by his neck, while an elderly woman was ordered to lie face down on the ground.
One of the raiders vaulted the counter and ordered terrified staff to hand over money.
They fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and sped off in the Audi. No shots were fired and nobody was injured, although bank staff were traumatised.
Shocked pedestrians dived for cover as the getaway car mounted a footpath.
It travelled a few hundreds yards before crashing into a car outside Hegarty’s Costcutters petrol station.
The raiders abandoned the car and ran into the forecourt where they forced a woman to hand over the keys to her Citroen Zara.
They threw her dog out of the vehicle as it sped off towards a local supermarket car park, on to Townsend Street and then to a T-junction.
Gardaí, who arrived at the bank within minutes, were supported last night by the Garda helicopter in the search for the Citroen, registration number 01-D-52470.
Superintendent Pat Maher, who is leading the investigation, appealed to the public for help tracing its movements after the robbery.
He said the men they are looking for are in their 20s. One is about 5ft 6in tall and of stocky build. He was wearing rubber sole shoes and a brown jumper.
The other is about 6ft tall, well built and was wearing a grey tracksuit pants, and a dark top. Both spoke with Cork accents.
“The Audi was stolen from the Douglas area of Cork on July 17. Its registration number is 01-C-14581. I would appeal to anyone who saw it since then, or who saw it on route to Skibbereen to contact us,” said Supt Maher.
It is being examined by forensic experts.
“I would urge the public not to approach these men, but to contact the gardaí on 028 23088 or 028 21026 and let us do the rest,” he added.
The raiders timed the robbery well as drainage works that have disrupted traffic in Skibbereen for several weeks came to a halt last Friday.
Meanwhile, a post office in Galway city centre was raided shortly before it opened early yesterday.
A lone raider threatened staff at Bohermore Post Office and escaped on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Nobody was injured.