IRC is a great way to communicate, but unless you sit around all day watching the screen or have headphones in to ping a sound when someone talks at you, it's easy to miss conversations. What I wanted was some way to pop up a notifier box at the bottom of the screen saying something like "you've got a new message". google searches for "gnome-notifer" didn't turn up anything great; except for a blog entry by Miguel de Icaza.
Looked like what I wanted but firstly it had a few bugs and by default left the message for 5 seconds then made it disappear. I wanted something that would leave the message until I indicated for it to disappear.