Miss Ellen Corr was born in Corglass, Drumgort, Co Longford, Ireland on 9 December 1895.1
She came from a Roman Catholic family and was the daughter of farmer Charles Corr (b. circa 1849), and the former Bridget Masterson (b. 1868), both Longford natives who were married on 29 May 1890 and who went on to have ten children.
Ellen's siblings were: Honor (b. 13 December 1891), Mary Kate (b. 24 December 1892), Bridget (b. 21 February 18942), Annie Maria (b. 25 August 1897), Teresa (b. 29 July 19003), Maggie (b. 25 October 1901), George (b. 17 February 1904), Elizabeth (b. 3 June 19064) and James Patrick (b. 20 March 1908).
The 1901 and 1911 censuses show Ellen and her family living at house 14 Corglass and house 24 Corglass, respectively. By the time of the latter record Ellen was the eldest child still at home and she had no stated profession other than "farmer's daughter". Two of her elder siblings, Honor and Mary Kate, had already left Ireland and had settled in Manhattan and it was Ellen's intention of joining them there at 1368 Third Avenue, New York.
At age 16, Ellen was among the younger of the Irish passengers travelling alone and she boarded the Titanic at Queenstown—described as an unmarried domestic—as a third class passenger (ticket number 367231 which cost £7, 15s). It is believed she was travelling alongside several other Longford passengers, including Margaret and Catherine Murphy and the McCoy siblings.
On the night of the sinking Ellen is believed to have been saved from the Titanic in lifeboat 14 or 16, along with the Murphys and the McCoys.
Ellen was eventually reunited with her sisters in New York and soon found work as a domestic. In her new home, she went by the name of Helen and was later joined in America by her sister Bridget. Back in Ireland, her mother died just two years after she left, succumbing to meningitis on 26 April 1914. Her father rallied until 21 December 1925 when he passed away aged 76.
She was married in 1922 to a fellow Irish immigrant, Patrick Niel Sweeney (b. 1893), originally from Co Donegal, and settled in the Bronx but they would have no children. Patrick died tragically young on 22 June 1929 aged 36 and Helen was never remarried. She worked as a waitress in a restaurant for many years, later becoming a head waitress, and continued to live in the Bronx. It is said that she refused to discuss the Titanic disaster in later years.
Helen Corr Sweeney died at the House of the Holy Comforter in the Bronx on 9 March 1980 aged 84. She was buried with her husband in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Westchester, New York.