The Irish Open is set to return to Northern Ireland with two of the next three tournaments being held there.

Royal County Down will host the event, for the first time in 75 years, in 2015 on 28-31 May while Lough Erne resort will be the venue in 2017.

The tournament was last held in Northern Ireland in 2012 when Jamie Donaldson won at Royal Portrush. This tournament was the first Irish Open to be held in Northern Ireland for 59 years.

The news was confirmed by European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and he was delighted that the Open was returning to Northern Ireland.

"The Irish Open at Royal Portrush in 2012 captured the imagination of the country after a lengthy absence and we are delighted to confirm that the tournament will be back in Northern Ireland next year at another magnificent links venue in Royal County Down, before returning again in 2017 at Lough Erne Resort," he said.

Chris O'Grady also admitted that it was Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy who was the inspiration for the Irish Open returning to his native country.

"Indeed, it was Rory McIlroy's inspired suggestion to me during the 2013 BMW Masters in China that proved to be the catalyst for today's announcement and we are confident that our players will relish the chance to compete for the Irish Open title at this iconic links course next year."

The World number seven expressed his delight at the Irish Open being hosted in his home country.

McIlroy said: "We all thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing an Irish Open in Northern Ireland two years ago so it is fantastic news that we will have another chance in 2015 and again in 2017.

"Royal County Down is another great links course, which I know particularly well, and it is one which I am very proud of as a Northern Irishman, so I'm delighted to have the opportunity to play an Irish Open there. I'm sure the fans will come out and support us again and make it another week to remember."

This news will trigger optimism that Northern Ireland can host the Open Championship for the first time since 1951. Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said that continuous talk are occurring regarding the event with Open organisers.

"We are talking to them and we have been talking to them for some time," the First Minister said.

"We will continue to make every effort we can in order to bring the Open to Northern Ireland."

This year's Irish Open will be defended by Englishman Paul Casey who won the event last year at Carton House. This year's event will take place at Fota Island in Cork starting on June 19-22.

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Rory McIlroy