I have to say I've never felt the need to connect to IRC, but ... if the module is broken, everyone knows it's broken, even the author knows its broken ... why doesn't anyone fix it? And if the interface just feels wrong (too lowlevel or something) then Net::IRC::Simple sounds like a good match. Even if behind the scenes the old Net::IRC module is scraped and replaced by a wrapper that calls your Net::IRC::Simple.
You seem to be overly worried of getting associated with Net::IRC, let me tell you something, not once, but quite a few times did I have to explain to people that Win32::Daemon::Simple is not a module that'd stand on its own, but a wrapper over Win32::Daemon. That they can't have Win32::Daemon::Simple without installing Win32::Daemon first. Looks like they did not think Win32::Daemon::Simple is a subclass.
Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code
will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
-- Rick Osborne