I put in another entry here which talks about a slightly easier way to install a new kernel. Search for "fakeroot" or "make-kpkg", should find it OK. Will pretty it up later and put into the Wiki later. The method I am using creates a new ".deb" package which you just install using dpkg -i. It does a lot of the manual steps for you (yay!) like updating grub and installing the new bootimage.
here -> http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=6304.0
I did not recompile LIRC, good call. Though would LMCE still have recognised it? I did get the popup from LMCE saying it had found it and added a new device.