Eamonn Hennessy is a big fan of Black Books, the television comedy set in a bookshop that has a proprietor given to grumpiness and the bottle. But it's fair to say that particular shop was not the inspiration for his own Northcote bookshop, which opened last week. "Hopefully," says Hennessy, "the customer service will be a little bit better." But if he feels like taking a drink during opening hours that won't be a problem. That's because Buck Mulligan's – named after "stately, plump Buck Mulligan" who appears in James Joyce's Ulysses – sells Irish literature and Irish whiskey. Some might argue the former has frequently been fuelled by the latter. Many a bookshop has added a cafe to boost sales in this time of the e-book and online retailing, but there can't be many that offer the delights of the smooth spirit. Hennessy has a small stock of about 500 books and his aim is to have about 80 different bottles, eventually including some from Japan and Tasmania. He has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 16, but always dreamed of owning a bookshop. "It's hard for bookshops to survive these days – you have to have some sort of genre focus," he says. "But Melbourne is a great city for books and independent bookshops. It's like Dublin a bit." \n \n \n Photo: Chris Hopkins\n \n He came up with the idea of the shop a couple of years ago, quickly chose the name – Mulligan is also his mother's maiden name and a bar in Dublin near where he used to live – and assembled his stock of mainly new books, with some especially imported, hard-to-find volumes. On the shelves you'll find plenty of Joyce, Wilde, Lawrence Sterne, Paul Muldoon, Edna O'Brien and Flann O'Brien. Plus Hennessy's favourite, John McGahern. And tucked in among the Murphys – that's Moira, Clodagh and Dervla – you'll even find a local interloper, Murphy's Lore by the former Western Bulldogs captain. Hennessy is relieved to have the shop open in time for the traditional Christmas book-buying season, but is already looking ahead to another significant day on the calendar, June 16 – Bloomsday – when Joyce enthusiasts celebrate Ulysses.