The atmosphere in the short story “On the Empty Shore”, written by Seosamh Mac Grianna, is very gloomy.
The story begins with Cathal O Canann. He runs through the fields in Ireland in search of potatoes. Already here the atmosphere is very depressing and disagreeable, because his search remains fruitless. The ground is barren (l. 1) and Cathal thinks that everything is cold: The air (l. 2), the crags (l. 2), the fields (l. 2) and even himself (l. 3). After his search he goes back to his house, the walls are “green and damp from time” (l. 11). This shows that the miserable situation stops long since and the desperation in Ireland is very high. This is reflected in the atmosphere when he enters the house. He walks “into the gloom” (l. 14), so everything is very dark and mysterious. The atmosphere changes when Cathal discovers that his friend Art has died. He is “cold as a rock” (l. 22). You can feel the loneliness and the sadness. Cathal feels lonely like he never felt before (ll. 25-26). The atmosphere is desperate, even the faith in God, which is very important for the Irishmen, has disappeared (ll. 31-32). You feel a bit disgusted because Cathal decides to carry the corpse to the graveyard. He is very hungry (l. 57). This hunger stretches through the complete atmosphere of the short story. On his way to the graveyard Cathal smells soup and you can feel his hope, because his step quickened (l. 84). However, he gets no soup because a violent looking man forbids it to him (ll. 97-100). The atmosphere becomes even worse than before, “the world was blacker than ever” (ll. 102-103). Cathal arrives the graveyard and when he burys Art, it feels for him, as if he killed Art himself (l. 120). He dedicates himself to the hopelessness and complains the great famine.
So all in all the atmosphere is very dynamic, only the hunger is always perceptible. The Story touches you very much.