I ALWAYS admired Bobby Aylward.
It was not because he was a politician. It was that he was a gentlemen and a kind person.
In fact, although he was a success as a rural community politician he probably was too nice a man to be involved in the oft murky world of politics where people tend to say one thing but do the other.
Bobby inevitably said his piece, stuck to his guns and enjoyed the role of being a people’s champion. He was a humble man of integrity.
As a journalist, I found him really pleasant to deal with. He didn’t do complication, asked for publicity for a particular cause and if you sought further information Bobby would be on the ‘phone in record time.
He truly was a man of the people, displayed no airs or graces and operated on a level that usually made sense to Joe and Josephine Soap.
His dad the late Bob Aylward once said that Fine Gael would promise you blackcurrants on Christmas Day.
Bobby Jnr was a chip off that block, matter of fact but with a dollop of levity.
Bobby didn’t throw around idle promises but any pledge from him to be in the frontline of a community need would be duly honoured.
There are politicians who parade, strut, oft with chains of office dangling and there are those who fight the good fight, do the job and carry on with life.
As Bobby might say, live and let live. Give me people like Bobby anytime.
Life may never be a bed of roses but working with Bobby meant that you could smile your way through a day and be sure of kindness and courtesy.
Bobby was not a self-publicist, he never tried to be the story, instead concentrating on the cause, the dangerous section of road that needed rehab, the farmers’ battle for better prices for their cattle, a fairer deal from the beef processing industry perhaps.
Over the years he has helped to bring local projects to fruition. As a Fianna Fáil stalwart he tended to be totally loyal to what after all is a family tradition.
There were times when he raised his voice in the corridors of power but more often than not his modus operandi was to concentrate on sensible debate.
He has had a long battle with illness. Just as he had lived his family life, his fight for dear life was dignified and without fuss as he had the support and prayers of his nearest and dearest and indeed from the greater South Kilkenny and other political and non political communities.
There are politicians we like or don’t like. A majority loved Bobby.
He will be missed by those he agreed with and those he disagreed with mainly because he treated all with respect and understood that differences of opinion were starting points in any debate rather than being obstacles to a possible amicable outcome.
He was a rare being, an oasis in a desert where fair play and common sense are of oft ignored at the expense of self-preservation.
Rest easy Bob, it was a pleasure to know you.
Reposing is on Saturday at Donnacha Doyle & Sons Funeral Home, Grannagh, Kilmacow, County Kilkenny from 2pm to 8pm.
Arriving on Monday at All Saints Church, Knockmoylan, Mullinavat, for Requiem Mass at 1pm.
Interment follows at adjoining cemetery.
He is survived by his wife Helena (nee Long) daughter Triona, sons Bob and Mark, daughters-in-law Lisa and Margaret, grandchildren Dylan, Chloe, Leah, Taylor, Jack, Kate and baby Ella.
Also by his brothers Eddie, Pat, Maurice, Sean and Liam, sisters Clare, Margaret and Kathleen, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, relatives, neighbours and friends.