Peter Carberry & Padraig McGovern

This was the website of the Longford accordionist Peter Carberry who boldly takes his accordion and Irish traditional music to new heights while accompanying Leitrim piper Pádraig McGovern.
Content is from the site's archived pages, as well as from other sources

This Leitrim/Longford duet are noted for the playing and promotion of traditional music of their native areas and especially that of old pipers. They released their critically acclaimed CD Forgotten Gems in 2013.

Peter and Padraig have been collaborating for the last three years and share an interest in the traditional music of their native areas and especially the music of the old pipers. 



Padraig McGovern hails from Ballymagovern, a townland in the Cavan-Leitrim border area.  His music reflects this placement with influences of both counties evident. Padraig was taught by master piper P.J. Flood from Belturbet, Co. Cavan and heavily influenced by the Button accordionist Vincent Tighe. His family were all involved with the Cornafean Céilí group and were regular session artists in the Shamrock Bar in Killeshandra. In conjunction with this, he developed his music as a member of the Ceolas Céili Band under the tutorship of Fr. John Quinn (P.P. Gortletteragh) and session playing with many renowned Leitrim musicians at festivals all over the county. It is through the tutorship of Fr. Quinn that Padraig has inherited a rich repertoire of music resurrected from the manuscripts of Stephen Grier and Alex Sutherland. He is a widely respected teacher having taught for many years at the ‘Joe Mooney Summerschool’, ‘Scoil Éigse’, and ‘Ag Seinm’ and more recently at ‘The Irish Music School of Chicago’ and the ‘Dublin-Ohio festival’ in Jackson MS. He has toured extensively with CCÉ and performed with many household names such as Téada, Dervish, Lúnasa, Dave Sheridan and many more. He spends most of his spare time teaching Uilleann Pipes and researching old tunes.     

The Races of Ballyhooley recorded at house concert in Knocklishen Beg Co.Carlow




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. 

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 here.
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.
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 Ireland.

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 heard an interesting story regarding the reason Peter stopped wearing his family's most popular sterling silver rings during performances. The rings in question had a family crest and inscriptions with significant sentimental value, but was found to interfere with the performance because of its size. You can see the ring on the poster promoting the Leeds concert, but it's gone for all subsequent photos and performances. 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

Peter Carberry & Pádraig McGovern "Forgotten Gems"
Own label, 2013

Accordionist (and banjo player) Peter Carberry is from the Irish County Longford. In the late 1960s he emigrated to Manchester, where he played with the legendary Felix Doran, Michael Gorman and Des Donnelly Sr., and subsequently taught the next generation (Dezi Donnelly, Michael McGoldrick, ...). Before the millennium Peter Carberry moved back to Ireland and passed on the music he was brought up with, e.g. to his daughter Angelina.
Peter Carberry had lost the top of his second finger on the right hand, which he first compensated by playing second-finger parts with his third finger. Then, on advice from fellow-accordionist Maírtín O’Connor,[39] he completely changed his B/C accordion style for the older press-and-draw Cb/D style. In recent years he teamed up with uilleann piper Padraig McGovern from the Cavan-Leitrim area. Peter Carberry tuned his box in accordance to Padraig McGovern's B pipes, his accordion bases to the regulators of the pipes, he also adapted the instrument to the piping repertoire and his fingering to piper's variations, which seemingly has never been done before. As if this marriage of accordion and pipes isn't bizarre enough, the duo's mission explicitly is to resurrect the style and repertoire of the Irish Midlands. There are special versions such as Seamus Ennis’s slip jig "Lark in the Morning" or Patsy Touhey’s "Rip the Calico". Maggie Barry and Michael Gorman's jig "The Strayaway Child" is a popular fella though rarely recorded, whereas the slip jig "Furnill's Frolic" and the "Fourth Dragoon March" I haven't even heard of. Furthermore, Carberry and McGovern have selected a slow air, "Úirchill a’ Chreagáin," and two flings, "Jimmy Dolan’s / John Joe Gannon’s," and McGovern penned a lovely reel, "Ballymagovern Fair".
All chosen tunes fit perfectly to their relaxed performance (supported by harpist Sabina McGovern, bouzouki player Brian Mooney and bodhrán player Séamus O'Kane), which allows subtle variations and a display of technical virtuosity.



Forgotten Gems

  1. Joe Kilmurray’s / Furnill's Frolic (slip jigs)    3:48

  2. The Blackbird / The Chorus Reel (hornpipe / reel) 4:28

  3. Moll Roe / Seamus Ennis’ Lark in the Morning (slip jig / jig) 3:17  

  4. Denis McMahon’s / Patsy Touhey’s Rip the Calico / Joe Kilmurray's (reels) 3:51

  5. Úirchill a’ Chreagáin / Youghal Harbour (air / set dance) 3:53

  6. Byrne’s Mill / Lough Key / Gift from the Fairies (slip jigs) 3:15

  7. Last Night’s Joy / The Lady’s Cup of Tea (reels) 3:01

  8. The Fourth Dragoon (march) 5:01

  9. Mickey Doherty's Reel / The Strokestown Reel (reels) 2:06

  10. The Faithful Friend / O'Mealy's Hornpipe (hornpipes) 4:36

  11. Squirrel’s Nest / Slip Jig from Tunes of the Munster Pipers 2:31

  12. The Merry Gardener / Ballymanus Fair (hornpipes) 3:20

  13. Boy in the Boat / Ballymagovern Fair / Éine’s Fancy (reels) 4:03

  14. Jimmy Dolan’s / John Joe Gannon’s (flings) 2:14

  15. The Morning Star / Cleaning the Henhouse (reels) 2:39

  16. Strike the Gay Harp / Will you Come Down to Limerick / Bumper Squire Jones (jigs)   4.23   The West Wind / Molly Maguire (reels) 3:02 The Strayaway Child (jig)   3:47



Tunes info

Forgotten Gems Tune Details

1.    Joe Kilmurray's / Furnill’s Frolic (Slip Jigs)
Peter came across these slip jigs on a recording of Joe Kilmurray made by Master Green. The name of the first slip jig is unknown. However Furnill’s Frolic is documented in P.W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs collection.
2.    The Blackbird / The Chorus Reel (Hornpipe / Reel)
The blackbird came from big John McManus from Fermanagh. This version of the chorus reel was learnt from the playing of Peters’ uncle piper Peter Carberry.

3.    Moll Roe / Seamus Ennis lark in the morning (Slip Jig / Jig)
Moll Roe is also called Máire Rua. This version of Moll Roe was recorded by The McNamara family on Leitrim’s’ hidden Treasure. Séamus Ennis played this version of the Lark in the Morning. It is also known as Dominick Rooney’s.

4.    The Road to Town / Patsy Touheys’ Rip the Calico / Joe Kilmurray's (Reels)
Pádraig heard this first tune on an old céilí house recording of Denis Murphy. The second tune is Patsy Touheys’ version of rip the Calico whilst the third reel was also found on the aforementioned Kilmurray recording.
5.    Uirchill a Chreagain / Youghal Harbour (Air / Setdance)

Peter learned ‘Uirchill a Chreagain’ from an old recording of Séamus Ennis.  Youghal Harbour was recorded on a TV programme by flute player Tara Bingham/Diamond who in turn learned it from Fermanagh flute player and singer Cathal McConnell.

6.    Byrnes Mill / Lough key / Gift from the fairies (Slip Jigs)
The first slip jig is a composition of fiddler and composer Joe Liddy from Killargue, Co. Leitrim. The second is a composition of Larry Redican and was published in Treoir in 1970. Gift from the Fairies also known as The Fairy Jig was recorded by fiddler James Kelly.
7.    Last night’s Joy / The Ladies cup of tea (Reels)

Last nights’ joy came from Cathal McConnell who in turn learned it from Donegal fiddler Mickey Doherty. The ladies cup of tea appeared in the publication Tunes of the Munster pipers.

8.    The Fourth Dragoon (March)
Pádraig learnt this march from the playing of the Ceolas céilí band which is led by Fr. John Quinn (PP Gortlettragh). This particular march was found in the Stephen Grier collection.
9.    Alec McConnell’s reel / The Strokestown Reel (Reels)
The first reel was learnt from the playing of fiddler Mickey Doherty. The strokestown reel is a tune which is often heard in the local traditional scene.
10.  The faithful friend / O'Mealys’ Hornpipe (Hornpipes)
The faithful friend was played by Willie Clancy and is no. 1763 in O'Neills Music of Ireland. O’Mealy was a piper originally from Westmeath but spent most of his life in Belfast.
11.  The Squirrel’s nest / Slip Jig Munster pipers nr 160 (Jig / Slip Jig)
The Squirrel’s nest is a relatively new composition of Roscommon fiddler John Mc Evoy. The second piece was found in the Tunes of the Munster pipers publication.
12.  The Merry Gardener / Ballymanus Fair (Hornpipes)
The Merry Gardener is in O’Neill’s collection of music and was learnt from the playing of Séamus Ennis. Ballymanus fair was recorded by Séamus Ennis on the The return from Fingal album.
13.  Boy in the Boat / Ballymagovern Fair / Éines fancy (Reels)
The Boy in the boat was made popular by a recording of Leo Rowsome in 1948. Ballymagovern Fair is a composition of Pádraigs’ and the title refers to an old fair that was held in Ballymagovern in the early 1900’s. Éine’s fancy is a composition of Co. Leitrim flute player Seán Gilrane.
14.  Jimmy Dolans / John Joe Gannons (Flings)
These flings were popular dance tunes in the Longford area in the early 1900’s. The first possibly known as Shady lane and an audio clip of Jimmy Dolan playing this is available on you tube.
15.  The Morning Star / Cleaning the henhouse (Reels)
The Morning Star comes from the playing of the East Clare piper/fiddler Martin Rochford. Cleaning the henhouse was published in Treoir in 1970.
16.  Strike the gay harp / Will you come down to Limerick / Bumper Squire Jones (Jigs)
This version of Strike the gay harp was found on the aforementioned tapes of Joe Kilmurray. Will you come down to Limerick was played by Willie Clancy. Bumper Squire Jones is from the McGahon Collection published in A Hidden Ulster.

17.  The west wind / Molly Maguire (Reels)
The west wind is a well-known piping tune. Molly Maguire comes from Michael Walsh from Strokestown in Co.Roscommon and was published in P.W Joyces’ Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.
18.  The stray away child (Jig)
This jig was written by Margaret Barry and made popular by the Bothy band.