Faces of the Titanic: Ellen Toomey a domestic servant in steerage class survived
Toomey gave a detailed description of her traumatic experience
Profile taken from Senan Molony's book "The Irish Aboard the Titanic"
Ticket number 13531. Paid £10 10s.
Boarded at Southampton. Second Class.
From: County Cork.
Destination: 119 Bates Street, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ellen Toomey was nothing like the swarms of young Irish girls who crowded into steerage. Although she had been born in Ireland, Ellen had been living in the United States for many years and was a domestic servant. She was unmarried and was returning to the house of Mrs Bridget Hannery, where she worked, after a blissful visit home to her mother and relatives in County Limerick.
Ellen had returned to Ireland in November 1911 and had tried to book her return
voyage on four other ships before she finally found a berth on the Titanic. The coal strike had interfered with her plans, but she finally managed to send postcards to her sisters in Indianapolis saying she was sailing on the new White Star liner.
She may have been rescued in lifeboat No. 3, launched from the starboard side relatively early in the night. On 24 April 1912, she described what happened in an interview with the Indianapolis Star:
"The wreck was due purely to carelessness. It could not have been otherwise.
"I do not know whether the stories are true or not, but it was common talk among the
survivors that the man in the lookout was asleep at the time and that the Captain and the other officers were not doing their duty, but that they were below at a banquet when the crash came.
"Oh those cries and screams of the poor, drowning people. The sound was awful. I shall never forget it. But we did not see any of them in the water. We were too far away from the Titanic when it went down to see those who had leaped or who had been washed into the sea. But we could hear them for some little time. Then all was still and we knew the last of them had perished.
"Toomey shared a Second-Class cabin with two women and a child. Shortly after midnight a ship’s steward told them to put on lifebelts and go on deck:
"There was no confusion or excitement. We were ordered to the side of the ship along with the other women. The men stood aside. They were brave, those men on the Titanic. They were real heroes. The order was given to lower the lifeboats, and one boat on our side of the ship was loaded with women and children and lowered to the water.
"An officer stood by with drawn revolver. I did not see him shoot. He threatened to shoot a man because he did not do what the officer told him to do, but finally the man obeyed. But I heard several shots on other parts of the ship. Who did the shooting I do not know.
"I was put into the second lifeboat on the starboard side and I think there were about 30 persons in our boat. In the number were three members of the crew who had been ordered there by the officers. When we were lowered to the water we found two other men in the boat who had sneaked in some way.
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