Four men ordered an An Post worker to take cash from the GPO in Dublin while his wife and two children were held hostage.
The gang, some of whom were armed, burst into the family's home in Fennore, Co Kildare at around 9.30pm last night and abducted the man's wife around an hour an a half later.
While his children were held hostage, the worker was told to drive to the GPO on O'Connell Street, get a sum of money and await further instructions.
Just after 9.15am today the woman managed to free herself and contact was made with the gardai, who had become aware of the so-called tiger kidnapping and launched an operation involving national and local units.
The gang fled empty-handed.
A garda spokesman said the family were shaken up by their ordeal but not hurt.
"Both the bank official his wife and family were uninjured but have been through a traumatic experience," he said.
Detectives are trying to trace the movements of the family's two cars which were involved in the incident - a silver Honda CRV with the registration 05 DL 4275 and a silver Mercedes, registration 11 D 13049.
Gardai are appealing for anyone who saw the Mercedes travelling in Fennore and around Rolestown and to Boroimhe, in Co Dublin, where it was found burnt out, to come forward.
They are also calling on anybody who saw any suspicious activity along the route between Kildare and the GPO, or around the historic Dublin post office, to contact them.
Investigators have appealed for privacy for the family and urged any witnesses to contact Newbridge Garda Station.
An Post confirmed the family were safe.
"The matter is in the hands of the Gardai," a statement said.
"An Post will not be making any further comment at this time."
© Press Association