Ireland has landed the 2011 Solheim Cup - thanks to the massive success of the Ryder Cup.

Jack Nicklaus at Killeen CastleIn a major coup, the Ladies European Tour has decided to bring the biennial clash between the top women professionals from the US and Europe to the course that Jack built - the Nicklaus designed Killeen Castle in Co Meath.

Ireland beat off stiff competition from England, Italy, Norway, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Spain to host the biggest team event in women's golf.

And in a double whammy for Ireland, the Ladies European Tour also agreed to bring back the Ladies Irish Open in 2008 in a five-year combined deal with Failte Ireland worth €5 million.

The announcement means that Ireland will continue to showcase its golfing attraction worldwide after the success of the Ryder Cup at the K Club.

But it also gives Irish women's professional golf a chance to take off with fledgling professionals Claire Coughlan and Martina Gillen set to battle for places in the side with Carlow's Rebecca Coakley

Alexandra Armas, Executive Director of The Ladies European Tour, explained that the event was awarded to Ireland on the basis of the massive success of the Ryder Cup at The K Club.

She said: "We have chosen Ireland and Killeen Castle for a number of reasons. The first of which is the superb way the whole nation supported the Ryder Cup in September. The second is that we believe the modern Ireland is a young vibrant society compatible with the image we wish to promote for ladies golf.

"It is true that Ireland does not have a great history in ladies professional golf, but we firmly believe that the decision we have taken to come to Ireland will help to change that.

"To emphasise our commitment to what we see as the 'new' Ireland we have also reached agreement with Failte Ireland to stage a new tournament - The Ladies Irish Open.

"We have an initial five year agreement starting from 2008. The venues for this tournament are not yet agreed but it will move around Ireland. In 2010 it will be played at Killeen Castle."

The Solheim Cup is now a massive event in world golf with the likes of Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie likely to tee it up at Killeen Castle.

More than 100,000 fans turned up at the 2003 matches at Barseback in Sweden and the event event will return there next year thanks to its huge TV and commercial success.

The input of the Irish government was a major factor in securing the matches for Ireland with Failte Ireland contributing €5 million over five years to support the Solheim Cup and the Ladies Irish Open.

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue said: "The experience and expertise gained over the past eight years since signing the Ryder Cup agreement, ensures that Ireland is ideally placed to host an enhanced Solheim Cup.

"I look forward to the prospect of developing a long-term relationship with the Ladies European Tour to help invigorate and increase awareness of ladies' golf in Ireland and further a field.

"The Government, through Fáilte Ireland, will contribute €2.5m over the five years from 2007-2011. Furthermore, Fáilte Ireland will support the Irish Ladies Open over five years in the sum of €2.5m.

"It has been a particular concern of mine to enhance and increase the role of women in sport and that is one of the reasons I have been concerned that Ireland would win the right to stage the Solheim Cup in 2011 and that the staging of a bigger than ever Ladies Irish Open would be part of the package.

Killeen Castle, the 12th century former seat of the Plunketts near Dunshauglin in Co Meath, is the brainchild of Dublin solicitor Brian Wallace and his partners at Snowbury Ltd, Joe O'Reilly, Liam Maye and John Fitzsimons.

They bought the site in 1995 for just €2.54 million, secured the services of Nicklaus and will have invested over €200 in the project by the time the course opens for play in 2008.

Nicklaus designed Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny, which hosted the American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004, and is currently designing a links course in Donegal.

And he was delighted to learn that the Solheim Cup was on its way to one of his designs in 2011.

The Bear said:"As the course designer, I am proud to be part of what is happening at Killeen Castle. It is phenomenal, what with the Castle as a focal point. You have wonderful facilities to stage The Solheim Cup or the Ryder Cup in the future.

"It is a very strong course and will be nicely matured for 2011. I congratulate the Ladies European Tour and The Solheim Cup organisers for picking Killeen Castle."

John A Solheim, Chairman and CEO of PING, the founders of the Solheim Cup said: "Picking a golf course that is still under construction is not something we would normally consider, however Killeen Castle is going to be something very special.

"It is also fitting that The Solheim Cup is coming to Ireland as the Trophy was originally created in 1990 by Waterford Crystal and has been associated with the matches ever since. The Solheim Cup is indeed ‘coming home’."