I have been using IRSSI and it's proxy feature to keep a running connection to freenode. While I play road warrior with the laptop. With a bit of down time over the holidays I came across ZNC. While not a new project it is new to me. I found that it's features set and project focus is what I was trying to have IRSSI do for me. This IRC bouncer they call it is quite mature now and has many module for expansion.