Echo Arts & Lifestyle


Glorious album ticks all the boxes

Before I’d even heard of “Forgotten Gems,” the new album from Peter Carberry and Padraig McGovern, the press release was in my email’s inbox.  Normally, I hear about great albums sort of early on through the grapevine.  However, the announcement for this one caught me by surprise and really drew my eye because it was written by the great box player Tony MacMahon.  Two of his sentences there struck me in particular: 

1. “Seamus Ennis often talked about the idea of ‘comfort’ in our music.  This is a particular rhythm, sadly being eroded by up-and-coming boy-racers, hunting after fame & fortune, on the back of our musical heritage.” 

2. “[This album] will wash sweetness all over you, dispelling the ugly sounds of progressive Ireland.” 

Although I dig some of the up-and-coming boy- (and girl-) racers and don’t think the sounds of “progressive Ireland” are all necessarily “ugly,” bold and effusive statements like these from a player like MacMahon carry great weight.  They immediately piqued my curiosity. 

It took some time and doing to get my hands on “Forgotten Gems,” but it was more than worth the effort.  This is a glorious album of traditional Irish music that ticks all the boxes: brilliant playing, tasteful tune selection, and ohh, the tempos: there isn’t a single set here at anything other than a perfect pace.   

The album comprises 18 tracks that feature Carberry on the button accordion and McGovern on the uilleann pipes.  There are guest appearances from Séamus O’Kane (bodhran), Brian Mooney (bouzouki) and Sabina McGovern (harp), but for the most part what you hear is Carberry and McGovern playing away, alone together. 

From “Joe Kilmurry’s / …” to “The Blackbird / …” to “Last Night’s Joy,” to “Squirrel’s Nest / …” and “Jimmy Dolan’s / …” the duo’s work is absolutely amazing.  Carberry and McGovern both also take the individual spotlight on several tracks.  (Mostly, this is where the album’s guest players appear.)  These give the album lovely variety and spotlight the nuances in each player’s playing.  (I’m especially partial to McGovern’s “The Fourth Dragoon” and Carberry’s “The Faithful Friend / ….”) 

The album’s production values are very high.  The instruments Carberry and McGovern play (for the most part) were not only tuned to each other, but are pitched below standard concert pitch.  This all gives the disc a mellow, rich and blended sound that contributes to it’s success.  

What makes this album remarkable, however, is the playing.  Carberry and McGovern completely eschew speed and pyrotechnics in favor of a beautiful and hypnotic rhythmic drive, clearly valuing pacing and phrasing over all else.  Their approach not only suits traditional music perfectly, but it makes their work extraordinary and special. 

MacMahon was right: there is comfort in Carberry and McGovern’s music that will most assuredly wash sweetness over those who listen to it.  Ultimately, music like this is hard to do – it requires patience and discipline, and a commitment to phrasing that most either won’t or don’t know how to make.  On “Forgotten Gems,” Carberry and McGovern make it sound easy.  My sincere hope is that people – listeners and players, alike – will seek out this utterly beautiful record not only to listen to, but to learn from, as it’s a great reminder of what is valuable in this music.  This is a must have album.  For more information (and for extended liner notes), visit

Traditional Music / By Daniel Neely DEC 2013

There are four good reasons why this CD should be listened to by everyone who is
interested in Irish traditional music. Whether you play, sing, accompany or simply
love our music, this CD will open your heart up to a world which is disappearing
before our very eyes.
The way Peter Carberry has developed conventional Irish accordion-playing is both
shocking & new. Never before even attempted, by anyone, he has frogmarched this crude in-
strument into a whole new musical dimension. He has shown that the tyrannay of
the Irish accordion, still going strong as a 50 year-old artillery-instrument, can be
changed, and changed utterly — into an instrument of taste & discernment, which
can stand proud alongside the king of Irish traditional instruments, the Uilleann
He has done this by immersing himself in the spirit, the refinement & the detail of
the uilleann pipers‘ repertoire - in the spendid ornamental detail which pipers bring
to our music. In the respect he shows to the piping of Padraig McGovern, which you
will hear on the glorious duet CD.
And, if that weren't enough, there's the most important feature of all to be heard
Seamus Ennis often talked about the idea of‘ comfort‘ in our music. This is a par-
ticular rhythm, sadly being eroded by up-and-coming boy-racers, hunting after
fame & fortune - on the back of our musical heritage.
You will hear on this CD the authentic rhythm of the Irish character, the Irish spirit,
the Irish temperment. Easy, slow and kindhearted. The best place to take it all in is
in your bed.
It will wash sweetness all over you, dispelling the ugly sounds of progressive

Tony MacMahon Nov 2013

 In 1913, Captain Francis O'Neill in his book Irish Minstrels and Musicians, lamented the decline of the uilleann pipes and despaired at the rise of 'melodeons made in Germany' as he put it. 100 years later, the accordion, although sometimes still a controversial instrument, has been accepted into the Irish tradition and the uilleann pipes have been saved from decline and now prosper.

This recording brings together two of Ireland's foremost proponents of each instrument, Peter Carberry on accordion from Co. Longford and Padraig McGovern from Co. Leitrim on uilleann pipes. I first heard them play together a few years ago and found remarkable the ease with which they played. Peter and Padraig are two original musicians, each bringing their individual style to the tradition while at the same time drawing inspiration from the era of O' Neill. Their phrasing, rhythm and sounds breathe new life into old music.
Much research was carried out for this project and the emphasis is on music from the midlands region while there are a few rambles to different parts of the country for good measure.  Piping tunes predominate, many learned from old recordings of local masters and some from old music manuscripts and even a few new compositions appear. For this production  Peter and Padraig have chosen to play on lower pitched instruments in the key of B. Peter had his bass retuned to emulate the chords of the pipes' regulators with the resulting innovative combination producing a hive of harmonies.

I have listened repeatedly to this recording and I keep hearing something new every time. This is music played with feeling and passion and I hope it brings pleasure to your good ears!

Martin Quinn
September 2013

Forgotten Gems
Own Label CM2013,
18 Tracks, 62 Minutes

The concept of fusion has been deconstructed and rebuilt in this excitingly tune focussed album which challenges the ingrained tradition of the accordion and embarks on an approach that creates its own unique fusion by way of the box re–regulating with the defined breathing of the pipes.
Carberry, an undisputed master of his instrument, has broken the boundaries of box playing in this collaboration with the talented uilleann pipe performer; Pádraig McGovern. The retuning of the accordion bass to synchronise with the chording of the pipe regulators has produced a freshness that belies the longevity of the tunes. The choice to play on the lower pitch key of B has also added to the ingenuity and the individuality of style that culminates in again, that unique fusion. Add all these components together and then you have an amazing collection of instrumental sound. This is epitomised in the Liddy composed Byrne’s Mill set where the definition of phrasing in a perfect instrumental sync defies you not to miss an inimitable note within the delightful group of slip jigs. This flowing definition is again shown in the Jimmy Dolan’s set where the second part of John Joe Gannon’s lifts the notes high and the listener with it. In fact, each tune in the eighteen tracks could be singled out as
a highlight as the quality of play from the duo is consistent throughout. What a pairing this is. The familiarity and ease of play combined with both a deep understanding and love of the tune places these instrumental masters at the top of their tradition. It’s fusion at its best.
Eileen McCabe