For finite-dimensional linear semigroups which leave a proper cone invariant it is shown that irreducibility with respect to the cone implies the existence of an extremal norm. In case the cone is simplicial a similar statement applies to absolute norms. The semigroups under consideration may be generated by discrete-time systems, continuous-time systems or continuous-time systems with jumps. The existence of extremal norms is used to extend results on the Lipschitz continuity of the joint spectral radius beyond the known case of semigroups that are irreducible in the representation theory interpretation of the word. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.