I, like many others leave an IRC client always connected on a remote machine and my client of choice is irssi.
One good feature of graphical clients like xchat is the message notification when someone addresses you, which has the nice property to turn IRC from "pull" mode (you have to watch for notifications) to "push" mode (you get notified).
Notifications was the feature I missed the most from irssi so I hacked a solution:
Grab interesting messages from irssi and push them through an ssh tunnel, read them on the local machine and finally display them using libnotify. Implementation results follow: