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Tight-knit community is rocked by suicides

A community is this week-end mourning two immensely popular men, both in their early 40s, who took their own lives four miles apart and within hours of each other last week.

Mick Cotter, a native of Celbridge in Kildare, who owned the iconic 'Mick the Barbers' in Kilcock for the last two decades, was a tireless community worker whose shop was a described this week as "the heart and soul of the town".

Mr Cotter, who was just 42 and the father of two teenage children, was found dead at his home last Tuesday morning.

Hours later in nearby Maynooth the body of company manager Mark Cummins, a 40-year-old married man, was discovered.

The Leixlip native was a manager of a company specialising in hospital waste disposal. He leaves behind a wife Alison and a son, Wayne.

His family have strong local links and Mr Cummins had a wide circle of friends in Maynooth where he resided at Carton Court for the last number of years. He was buried on Friday.

The deaths have shocked the local community as both men had strong links and family throughout the area.

Mr Cotter was a stalwart of the business community in Kilcock and a member of the local trade association. He also served at one time on the board of management of a local national school formerly attended by his children.

He leaves behind a daughter Muirinn, 19, a son Ben, 16, their mother Catherine, and a partner, Therese.

Hundreds of people attended his funeral yesterday.

Mr Cotter helped establish Kilcock Canoe Club while his barber shop, which boasted the legend "New York, Paris, Kilcock", was a popular men's meeting house, from schoolboys to OAPs.Mr Cotter was a renowned wit. When a competitor arrived in town undercutting Mick's €10 charge for a haircut by €2, he put up a prominent sign outside his shop which stated "I fix €8 haircuts".

A sports enthusiast and talented canoeist, he also travelled to work on a skateboard with his dog, Poppy.

On one occasion he also took in a domestic duckling which became a popular fixture in the shop and followed him as he walked up the town and travelled on the back of his motor bike.

The shop itself, which boasted the largest barber's pole in Ireland, was filled with memorabilia, bric-a-brac and conversation pieces. One sign in the shop read "Interested in Time Travel? Meeting Here, Last Tuesday, 8pm".

Local man Joe Barry told the Sunday Independent. "The entire parish is devastated to lose Mick. I have a friend who summed it up 'every time I go into Mick's shop I feel better than when I went in'. That kind of sums Mick up. He had a wonderful sense of humour, his wit and his ability to cheer people up and his eccentricity was so lovely.

"He was a real community man and a driving force with charities and business. He was also a deeply intelligent and thoughtful man."

Local parish priest, Fr PJ Byrne, who was a customer and friend, said: "We are all challenged to come to terms with our sadness, our emotions, our strength to the loss of somebody so well known and loved by young and old in our parish and in our community.

"Michael himself displayed his own strengths and shared his weaknesses."

Addressing the issue of two young men from the community taking their own lives on the same day, Fr Byrne said: "Family and friends will always wonder why; why at this time people either could not or would not share their pain and continue to be connected to family and friends," he said.

Speaking about his own parishioner Mr Cotter, Fr Byrne told the Sunday Independent: "With his outgoing personality, few people knew Mick had battled against depression. His death is a huge sorrow to the community."

Sunday Independent