Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has praised Irish emigrants for their courage and their tenacity in the face of adversity.

 Speaking at the Dublin launch of IrishCentral publisher Niall O'Dowd's new book "An Irish Voice," Cowen paid tribute to Irish emigrants.

 And he said that naysayers who put down Irish Americans did so through their own ignorance.

"I've always felt that there was an element in this country that looked over at the diaspora in a rather patronising way, as the shillelagh and the Aran jumper brigade," he said.

Cowen's comments on emigration come as almost 60,000 Irish people have fled Ireland with a further 45,000 set to emigrate this year.

He spoke of the difficulties that the Irish faced when moving to big cities like New York.

"You try and find some sense of connection in a very big city, on one hand trying to maintain your Irish connection, on the other hand not being imprisoned by it and enjoy a different life," he said.

"There is no family unaffected by the reality of emigration, no family that I know of, who don't have some members who are 'on the other side' as they say."

Cowen said that Ireland needed to learn from Irish America to overcome the economic crisis.

"When I go to America and meet Irish-America in all its manifestations, I think what we need to take from there is that sense of 'yes of course there's a crisis, but there's opportunity'," he said.

"We need to have the resilience and self-belief to recognise that we are not alone in this. One of the great things about America for all its faults is the idea that there is a new day, there is another tomorrow, there is a way forward. That has always been something we've always had to learn from America, that it is okay to fail."

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen with Irish Central publisher Niall O'Dowd