Aylward, Richard (1872–1954), Celticist, priest, and professor of Irish, was born in Aylwardstown, Glenmore, Co. Kilkenny, son of Edmond Aylward, farmer, and Johanna Aylward (née Phelan). He was educated in the Old Classical College, Kilmacow, and at St Kieran's College, Kilkenny. In 1892 he entered the priesthood in St Patrick's College, Maynooth. He was ordained (6 June 1898) in St Mary's cathedral, Kilkenny; his first appointment was to the curacy of Dundee, Scotland, where he remained for six years. On his return to Ireland he was appointed curate at St Mary's cathedral, Kilkenny, in July 1904. The following year he became the first professor of Irish at St Kieran's College, where he also taught English. He was secretary (1916–19) to the bishop of Ossory, Abraham Brownrigg (qv), while continuing his teaching duties in St Kieran's. In 1919 he was appointed president of the college, and the following year he wrote a document strongly criticising the educational standards attained by boys entering the college, as he believed that they had not received in national school the basic training required for entry to St Kieran's. During his presidency the college was raided on more than one occasion by crown forces in search of evidence of students or staff being involved in subversive acts. He remained president of St Kieran's until 1925, when he became PP of Durrow, Co. Kilkenny.
Although his parents were Irish-speakers, they did not speak the language to him during his youth. It was only as an adult, after having learned Irish with the assistance of the works of Eoghan Ó Gramhnaigh (Eugene O'Growney (qv)) while in Maynooth and having spent time in the Ring Gaeltacht, Co. Waterford, that he began conversing with them in Irish. His interest in the revival of the language led him to assist in the establishment of Ring College, which received official recognition in 1907. He was appointed to its management committee in 1920.
During his time in St Kieran's he began researching the life and works of his near relative John O'Donovan (qv). His ‘Life of John O'Donovan’ remained unpublished; after his death the typescript was given to James Delargy (qv), whose endeavours to have it published were unsuccessful. It is now held in St Kieran's College. Aylward died 1 December 1954 in Aut Even Hospital, Kilkenny, and is buried in Durrow.