Mr Aylward (67) was described as “a presence fuelled with integrity, humour, courage, resilience and kindness” during his funeral mass at the All-Saints Church, Knockmoylan, in Co Kilkenny this afternoon.
The former TD for Carlow and Kilkenny died on July 14 after a long illness.
His son Mark thanked the doctors and nurses at St Vincent’s Hospital for caring for Mr Aylward throughout his illness.
“Dad was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, brother and a very good friend to all.
"I’m sure he’s with nanny, granddad and his little sister Kathleen looking down on us all,” he said.
“Dad had great interests in life and his main one was the farm, up until the other day he was still the boss.
"Politics was another of dad’s love, he had a couple of knocks over the time, but his drive was there.
“Another one of dad’s love was the GAA and hurling in particular. And now the family, mam and dad have been together for 46 years and to be honest he was lost without mam. I don’t think he ever cooked in his life and especially the last year, it just shows the love between two people.
“She’s going to be heartbroken and so are we all but mam, he loved you so much and we want to thank you.
“He was always so good to us all, he will be sadly missed but we will never forget him. I know he’ll always look down on us and he’ll take care of us of. We’ll greatly miss you dad, lots of love.”
A number of symbols were brought to the altar to represent Mr Aylward’s life, including the match programme from Sunday’s All-Ireland Hurling Final to symbolise his love for GAA, an election flier to represent his long political career, his cap which he wore daily on the farm to represent his lifelong love of farming and a family portrait.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he always received “honest and constructive advice” from Mr Aylward as a senior member of Fianna Fáil and could always rely on his “wonderful, warm and good humour”.
Mr Martin described the 67-year-old as a “wonderful friend, a trusted colleague and a wise counsel”.
“It is an honour to be with you today as we gather to mark the passing of our good friend Bobby Aylward.
“Bobby’s first wish today would be that we give our comfort and support to Helena, who was such a wonderful support and companion to him for so many years,” he told mourners.
“And also, to Triona, Bob and Mark and their families who he was so proud of and loved so dearly. The incredible fortitude and good humour which Bobby showed during his illness came from the support you gave him and the pride which he felt every time he spoke of his family.
“Anyone that has the privilege to know the Aylwards, knows that they’re a tight family.
“Bobby was always thinking of others and selfless in his devotion to family, community and country. I first got to know Bobby during his time on the county council and particularly as its Chair. He was always a passionate advocate for his community.
“However, it was during the by-election in 2015 that I got to really know Bobby and saw the passion and empathy which made him such a special person."
He said everything Mr Aylward did as a public representative was driven by a very clear set of beliefs.
“Whatever he did, he did it for the most important reasons, to be of service.
“There was always a special place in his heart and in his work for farming. He had a deep connection to and understanding of the work and challenges of farming. He had a common sense understanding of what mattered to farmers.
“Wherever he was and whatever position he held, Bobby remained rooted here, amongst his people and was sustained by the love and support of his family.”
Mr Aylward is survived by his wife Helena, daughter Triona, sons Bob and Mark, daughters-in-law Lisa and Margaret, beloved grandchildren Dylan, Chloe, Leah, Taylor, Jack, Kate and baby Ella.