This Rossonian packed a lot of adventure into a relatively short life.

ALFRED AYLWARD (1843-1889)

Alfred Aylward, a 19th-century Wexford man, slaked his revolutionary longings across the globe. Born, Seville Cottage, New Ross 1843. Somehow, at the age of 17, having graduated from a Jesuit school in Co. Offaly, he found himself in Sicily, fighting alongside Garibaldi. He then went to America, where he spent four years as a surgeon in the Union army during the civil war (his medical knowledge was apparently acquired in Guy’s Hospital in London – when he was a patient).

Upon his return to Ireland, he was jailed for suspected Fenianism, and upon his release went to South Africa, where he led an unsuccessful revolt of diamond diggers against the colonial administration. Later, he led the Lynchburg Volunteer Corp, a Boer-sponsored mercenary army that fought against the Marota king Sekhukhune. During the first Boer War, he fought for the Boers in Transvaal.

Then he went to Canada, where he took part in Louis Riel’s North-West Rebellion of Métis – descendants of marriages between indigenous and Europeans – against the dominion government. He died in an accident in New Hampshire a few years later. The facts alone are exhausting.

SOURCE: Dictionary of Irish Biographies.

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