And third, the most important building in the city is Thomond Park, home of Munster rugby and site of the 1978 victory against the All Blacks.

I learnt the second rule shortly after I’d learnt the first, sheltering in a pub to escape the onslaught of torrential rain that seemed to come from nowhere.

As it turned out, the pub was owned by Munster and Ireland player Jerry Flannery and so, surrounded by rugby memorabilia and sipping a pint of Beamish, I learnt about Thomond Park.

If ever there was a city based around sport, it’s Limerick. Gaelic games, particularly hurling, are widely followed and played throughout the city, and soccer and golf are also popular.

However, it’s rugby that really defines and unites this city. With pubs owned by current and ex-players, shops selling Munster merchandise and red flags flying from buildings and cars, the sport is everywhere.

Thomond Park stadium has achieved almost mythical status since the David and Goliath match of Munster against the All Blacks, which ended with the provincial Irish team winning 12-0.

A €40 million redesign doubled its capacity to 26,000. The new stadium opened in 2008 and includes 14 bars as well as an interactive museum dedicated to all things Munster.

Limerick is Ireland’s third biggest city and sits on the two banks of the River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland. Just as Thomond Park has been redeveloped, so has much of the city centre, particularly along the river.

Although it’s still not the most beautiful city in the world, riverside parks, hotels, restaurants and bars have all been built in an effort to shake off the city’s underprivileged past.

However if it’s the past you’re looking for, there’s plenty of it. King’s Island, divided from the rest of the city by the Abbey River, reveals Limerick’s medieval history with King John’s castle and St Mary’s Cathedral being the main draws.

An Angela’s Ashes walking tour will give you a taste of the more recent past by guiding you to locations featured in Frank McCourt’s memoir of growing up in Limerick during the 1930s.

Back in the present, and every sporting city has to have its après sport.

Although Limerick is small enough to navigate on foot, the weather wasn’t in our favour so we rejected the riverside Dolan’s Warehouse – a live music venue with traditional Irish music every night – in favour of the area by Cruises and Denmark Streets.

Here a cluster of bars proved the ideal location to hunker down for a few hours, savour the black stuff and shelter from the rain. What more could we ask for?

Non-sporting attractions

King John’s castle

An impressive 13th-century castle on King’s Island, just five minutes’ walk from the Limerick Tourist Office. It was built by King John of England, who had granted Limerick its charter in 1197. The castle was restored in 1991 and a visitor’s centre opened.

The hunt museum

One of Ireland’s most important collections of art and antiquities. Located in the restored Custom House building, it’s home to a Greek coin allegedly given to Judas for betraying Jesus, and works by Picasso and Renoir.

The milk market

Held every Saturday morning, this is one of the busiest farmers’ markets in Ireland. Local cheese, fish and breads are sold alongside produce from further afield.