The Irish Experiment is the popular name for the interest, primarily from VFL/AFL clubs, in bringing Irish Gaelic footballers to Australia to play Australian rules football professionally. The AFL's focus on Gaelic footballers is due to the similarities between the sports.
The Irish Experiment began in the mid-1980s as an informal project of the Melbourne Football Club. Despite its initial success, enthusiasm for the project lapsed until the 2000s, when it again became ongoing reaching a record level due to globalisation and professionalism in sport, however also facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highest profile product of the experiment to date has been Medal of the Order of Australia and Brownlow Medal recipient Jim Stynes, who was an early recruit. Irishman Tadhg Kennelly was a key player in the Sydney Swans 2005 AFL Grand Final victory. The highest profile Gaelic footballer to sign an AFL contract is Tommy Walsh.
Over the years the Irish experiment has attracted media and public interest in both Ireland and Australia.