(Edit to add Links to the IRC networks.)

Like many people involved in free software I use IRC a lot. I'm on three different IRC networks all the time: Freenode, OFTC and an internal IRC server at $DAYJOB.

To manage all this, and not miss interesting messages sent when I'm not in attendance, I use the bip bouncer program. bip sits on my shell box and keeps me connected all the time and keeps a backlog of messages that it sends to my client when I connect.

My IRC client of choice is the fairly lightweight rcirc client that comes with Emacs. Many moons ago I used to use ZenIRC, but rcirc is nicer in many ways.

Way back in 1991 when I first discovered IRC I used ircII and a bunch of silly scripts to do silly actions and whatnot, but I might just be a little more mature now. If someone recognizes Teakettle from that time, get in touch!

rcirc identifies an IRC server by its FQDN. This is a problem if you want to have several connections to the same server, like you would if you connect to a bip bouncer several times. A workaround is to add something like this to /etc/hosts:  freenode  oftc
2001:888:22b3::2    freenode
2001:888:22b3::2    oftc

Then you can use something like:

(setq rcirc-server-alist
         :port NNNN
         :encryption tls)

         :port NNNN :encryption tls)))

(where "NNNN" is the bip port number, obviously.)

Not very pretty, I know, but it works.