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28/09/2021

Ballyshannon man's fascinating radio documentary on the lost millionaire who disappeared from Donegal without a trace

Arthur Kingsley Porter disappeared from Inishboffin in July 1933

Ballyshannon man's fascinating radio documentary on the lost millionaire who disappeared from Donegal without a trace

Arthur Kingsley Porter went missing from a Donegal island in July 1933

A fascinating and intriguing new Donegal related history radio documentary will broadcast on RTE Radio 1 this evening, which is produced and narrated by Ballyshannon native and historian and author, Marc McMenamin.

It's is a mystery that has fascinated him for years, he told donegallive.ie

An American millionaire, Arthur Kingsley Porter went missing from a Donegal island in July 1933. His body was never found.

At the inquest, his widow, Lucy described their life as "happy" but that wasn’t fully the case. Her husband was gay and, as part of the treatment for the depression he suffered, she agreed to him taking another man into their marriage.

Both Lucy and Arthur were millionaires and both were art experts. She was a photographer and he was a university professor. They became fascinated with Ireland and they bought Glenveagh castle in Donegal and then built a simple cottage on Inis Bó Finne off the north coast of the county.

Summers in Donegal allowed the Kingsley Porters to immerse themselves in the Irish landscape and culture but it also gave them time away from the stresses of life back in the United States.

One of these stresses was an anti-gay campaign being run, at the time, by Arthur’s university, Harvard.

The college held a secret court to expose and expel gay students and faculty. Two students, accused of being gay, had already died by suicide. Arthur and Lucy were fearful his homosexuality would be revealed and there would be a scandal.

On July 8, 1933, Lucy and Arthur were visiting their cottage on Inis Bó Finne when he disappeared. Lucy and the islanders searched for hours but Arthur was never found.

PRODUCER AND NARRATOR MARC MCMENAMIN FROM BALLYSHANNON

The subsequent inquest – probably the first in Ireland without a body – decided that Arthur Kingsley Porter had fallen from cliffs into the sea. But rumours grew that a boat had been seen near the island at the time of his disappearance.

What did happen to Arthur Kingsley Porter? Was it an accident? Or, did he jump to his death fearing an impending scandal?

Or, was there really a boat waiting nearby that spirited him off to a new life with a new identity?

Check it out this evening on RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday, July 25 at 6pm.

The podcast is now available on https://www.rte.ie/radio/doconone/

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