Miss Ellen Shine was born in Lisrobin, Newmarket, Co Cork, Ireland on 30 December 1891.1
She was the daughter of Timothy Shine (b. circa 1844), a farmer, and Mary Fitzgerald (b. circa 1851) who had married in Kiskeam, Co Cork on 19 February 1874.
Ellen was the youngest from a total of nine children born into a Roman Catholic household and her siblings were: Mary (b. 1 September 1876), Margaret (b. 1 October 1877), William (b. 25 August 1880), Jeremiah (b. 8 June 1882), John (b. 12 March 1884), Timothy (b. circa 1887), James (b. 7 March 1889) and Catherine (b. 13 January 1890).
The family appear on the 1901 census living in house 4 in west Lisrobin and by the time of the 1911 census they are living in house 8 in the same locale. Ellen had no stated profession on the latter record but her mother and brothers were running the farm, her father having died two years previous on 30 June 1909 following a chronic nervous condition and heart failure.
Ellen opted to leave Ireland and join other siblings in New York, including her brother Jeremiah. One brother, William, had emigrated sometime around the turn of the century and made his home in New York; he died there on 6 February 1904.
Ellen boarded the Titanic in Queenstown as a third class passenger (ticket number 330968 which cost £7, 16s, 7d), destined for 205 Eighth Avenue, New York, the home of her brother Jeremiah.
Following Ellen's survival (possibly in lifeboat 13) and after her arrival in New York, she was taken to hospital with the other Irish survivors and was interviewed by a New York newspaper (reproduced in The Times on Saturday 20 April). Ellen said that when the accident happened they rushed to the upper deck where they were met by members of the crew who endeavoured to keep them in the steerage quarters. The women, however, rushed past these men and finally reached the upper deck. When they were informed that the boat was sinking most of them fell on their knees and began to pray. She saw one of the lifeboats and made for it. In it were already four men from steerage who refused to obey an officer who ordered them out. They were, however, finally turned out.
Upon arrival in New York aboard Carpathia Ellen was described as a 16-year-old servant and was eventually reunited with her siblings who were waiting for her. Her destination address was specified as 205 8th Avenue, New York, the home of her brother Jeremiah.
Ellen remained in New York for the rest of her life; in her new home she became known as Helen and in 1921 married to John Callaghan (b. 23 September 1896), a New York fire-fighter who had emigrated from Ireland in 1914. He hailed from Knockeenacurrig, Boherboy, Co Cork and was the son of Peter Callaghan, a farmer, and the former Julia Murphy.
Ellen and John settled in New York City where they had two daughters, Julia (b. 15 November 1921) and Mary (b. 30 January 1927). Back in Ireland her mother died on 2 August 1929.
The Callaghan family appears on the 1930 census living at Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan and on the 1940 census living at an unspecified address in Manhattan although by the time of John Callaghan's 1942 military draft their address was given as 536 Isham Street.
Ellen rarely spoke of the Titanic during her life and her own daughters reportedly did not know that their mother was on the famous ship until the topic came up in school and they spotted her name on a passenger list.
Following the death of her husband on 23 March 1976, Ellen moved to Glen Cove, Long Island, New York to be closer to her family. She was fated to outlive both her daughters; daughter Mary, who had married Lawrence Quinn and had two children, succumbed to breast cancer on 21 December 1982 following which Ellen entered a Glen Cove nursing home, Glengariff at the age of 90. Her daughter Julia, who had never married, later died on 4 March 1989.
Ellen's final years in her nursing home were afflicted with dementia; having never spoken about the Titanic much over her long life her illness caused her to talk about the subject incessantly, much to the exasperation of those around her.
Ellen's 101st birthday was celebrated in December 1992 and she passed away in hospital a few months later on 5 March 1993 aged 101 years, 2 months and 3 days, being one of only a handful of Titanic survivors to have reached the age of 100. She was the last living Titanic passenger from Ireland and her death came just one day after that of another Titanic survivor, Bertha Watt Marshall of Vancouver, Canada.
Ellen was buried with her husband and daughters in St Charles' Cemetery, East Farmingdale, New York.
Ellen's granddaughter, daughter of Mary Callaghan Quinn, is Christine Callaghan Quinn (b. 25 July 1966), a member of the Democrat Party of the USA who served as the first openly gay Speaker in the New York City Council and who later ran for Mayor in the 2013 election. She is still an active Democrat.