Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol client library

The home of irclib is:


You can download project releases from PyPI.

Some legacy content is still available at the foundational SourceForge site.

Tests are continuously run using Travis-CI.


This library is intended to encapsulate the IRC protocol at a quite low level. It provides an event-driven IRC client framework. It has a fairly thorough support for the basic IRC protocol, CTCP and DCC connections.

In order to understand how to make an IRC client, I'm afraid you more or less must understand the IRC specifications. They are available here:



IRC requires Python 2.6 or newer (including Python 3).

You have several options to install the IRC project.

  • Use "easy_install irc" or "pip install irc" to grab the latest version from the cheeseshop (recommended).
  • Run "python setup.py install" (from the source distribution) or
  • Run "paver install" (from repo checkout, requires paver) or
  • Copy irc directory to appropriate site-packages directory.

Client Features

The main features of the IRC client framework are:

  • Abstraction of the IRC protocol.
  • Handles multiple simultaneous IRC server connections.
  • Handles server PONGing transparently.
  • Messages to the IRC server are done by calling methods on an IRC connection object.
  • Messages from an IRC server triggers events, which can be caught by event handlers.
  • Reading from and writing to IRC server sockets are normally done by an internal select() loop, but the select()ing may be done by an external main loop.
  • Functions can be registered to execute at specified times by the event-loop.
  • Decodes CTCP tagging correctly (hopefully); I haven't seen any other IRC client implementation that handles the CTCP specification subtilties.
  • A kind of simple, single-server, object-oriented IRC client class that dispatches events to instance methods is included.
  • DCC connection support.

Current limitations:

  • The IRC protocol shines through the abstraction a bit too much.
  • Data is not written asynchronously to the server (and DCC peers), i.e. the write() may block if the TCP buffers are stuffed.
  • Like most projects, documentation is lacking...

Unfortunately, this library isn't as well-documented as I would like it to be. I think the best way to get started is to read and understand the example program irccat, which is included in the distribution.

The following files might be of interest:

  • irc/client.py

    The library itself. Read the code along with comments and docstrings to get a grip of what it does. Use it at your own risk and read the source, Luke!

  • irc/bot.py

    An IRC bot implementation.

  • irc/server.py

    A basic IRC server implementation. Suitable for testing, but not production quality.


Example scripts in the scripts directory:

  • irccat

    A simple example of how to use the IRC client. irccat reads text from stdin and writes it to a specified user or channel on an IRC server.

  • irccat2

    The same as above, but using the SimpleIRCClient class.

  • servermap

    Another simple example. servermap connects to an IRC server, finds out what other IRC servers there are in the net and prints a tree-like map of their interconnections.

  • testbot

    An example bot that uses the SingleServerIRCBot class from irc.bot. The bot enters a channel and listens for commands in private messages or channel traffic. It also accepts DCC invitations and echos back sent DCC chat messages.

  • dccreceive

    Receives a file over DCC.

  • dccsend

    Sends a file over DCC.

NOTE: If you're running one of the examples on a unix command line, you need to escape the # symbol in the channel. For example, use \#test or "#test" instead of #test.

Decoding Input

By default, the IRC library does attempt to decode all incoming streams as UTF-8, but the author acknowledges that there are cases where decoding is undesirable or a custom decoding option is desirable. To support these cases, since irc 3.4.2, the ServerConnection class may be customized. The 'buffer_class' attribute on the ServerConnection determines what class is used for buffering lines from the input stream. By default it is DecodingLineBuffer, but may be re-assigned with another class, such as irc client.LineBuffer, which does not decode the lines and passes them through as byte strings. The 'buffer_class' attribute may be assigned for all instances of ServerConnection by overriding the class attribute:

irc.client.ServerConnection.buffer_class = irc.client.LineBuffer

or it may be overridden on a per-instance basis (as long as it's overridden before the connection is established):

server = irc.client.IRC().server()
server.buffer_class = irc.client.LineBuffer

Notes and Contact Info


Maintainer: Jason R. Coombs <jaraco@jaraco.com>

Original Author: Joel Rosdahl <joel@rosdahl.net>