Despite failing in its bid to join the Taj Majal, Machu Picchu or the Great Wall of China as a new Wonder of the World, the Big Ball of Naas today remains one of the nation’s most iconic pieces of road art.
Roughly 9 metres in diameter, the Big Ball is a great big sphere that sits just off the Dublin Road roundabout in Naas and is visible to anyone who has ever travelled up or down the M7. It is covered with a myriad of road markings that according to Kildare County Council “follow and symbolize the motion of traffic on the nearby roads” and which also “suggest the movement of the winds and ocean currents over the surface of the earth – a planet in perpetual motion”. Indeed “Perpetual Motion” is its official title though the term “perpetual motion” is kind of ironic, especially for anyone who has ever tried to join the motorway westbound off the roundabout on a Friday evening!
While this is the official explanation there are some local rumours as to what the Big Ball is, with tales ranging from it being a scientific experiment involving a cryogenically preserved ex-Transport minister to it being a time capsule containing old Nokia phones.
Finally, though the Big Ball had been well known to anyone who knows or has passed Naas since its original installation back in 1996 it sprung to national prominence in 2008 when it co-starred in that Guinness advert starring Michael Fassbender. (What?! A Guinness advert starring Michael Fassbender! Drop book! Rush to YouTube!). In the advert Michael leaves Dublin, walks westward and then swims the Atlantic to New York to apologise to his brother. We don’t know what for but I’m thinking he either did the dirt with his brother’s girlfriend or wore his good shirt to the local disco without asking. For true Naas-onians however, they’ll know that when Michael walks by the Big Ball in advert he is in fact walking in the direction of Dublin, which we can only presume is because he forgot his passport (we’ve all done it).