The Irish Open looks to be on its way back to Baltray after the ILGU confirmed that it is looking for an alternative venue for this year’s Irish Ladies Close.

The top women’s event was due to be held at County Louth from May 16-20, clashing with the date for the European Tour event.

But with the Irish government and the European Tour keen to take the Irish Open to a links venue, the ILGU has decided to look elsewhere.

A spokesperson for the ILGU said: “At this stage all I can say is that we are looking for an alternative venue.”

The European Tour has been talking to Carton House and Royal Dublin but sources close to Baltray confirmed that the popular Co Louth links has already agreed to play host to Padraig Harrington and the rest of the European Tour elite from May 14-17.

County Louth hosted the Irish Open for the first time in 2004 when Australia’s Brett Rumford romped to a four-shot win over Harrington and Rafael Jacquelin of France.

The venue was popular amongst the players with Darren Clarke one of its biggest supporters.

Winner of the Irish Close and East of Ireland titles there, Clarke said: "It's a really good golf course, one of my favourites. I played a lot there as an amateur and the greens were always in brilliant condition.

"The Irish Open should always be played on links. We have some of the best courses in the world and we should be utilising them."

Harrington lost to Clarke in the 1990 Irish Close final at Baltray but is still a big fan of the course, even if he finds the tough par threes as threatening as ever.

Harrington said: “I would put the fifth as one of the best holes in the world. It’s just a superb par three. It is just 175 yards, not a beast of a hole but just a superb golf hole, it really is.

“The seventh is another. The two par threes on the front nine are as good as you will get anywhere.”

“I know the golf course well and I have a lot of memories. I can remember some tough days out there in the East of Ireland.”

Ireland’s triple Major winner will be the hot favourite to lift his second Irish Open there if Baltray is confirmed as the venue over the next few days.

But he does not believe that local knowledge will give him an edge over the field.

He said: “Maybe local knowledge does help, but it is not certain. It’s like the Masters where you carry the baggage of other players over the years.”

Mobile phone giants 3 Mobile will sponsor the event for the next three years with a prize fund of more than €3m.