Aiten Alive With Fleas (Dreancaid in Irish) Until DDT Came Along.
Hard to believe now but for those in their 70s upwards a house even prosperous ones was often shared with fleas. As you went down the social scale the more acute the problem. Children would dread going to school exposing their necks with multiple flea bites. The miraculously appearance in the 1950s of DDT and a few puffs on the beds fleas gone. The use of turf for the fire was supposed to exacerbate the problem of infestation.
From the early 1950s DDT was used extensively with miraculous results prior to it being questioned for its long term potential toxic qualities.
John Philpot Curran, Cork born poor scholar, teacher, journalist, barrister, judge, father of Sarah Curran betrothed of executed patriot, Robert Emmett. Eaten alive by fleas while on circuit in Carlow, wrote ‘An Ode to Fleas’
James Joyce in Ulysses refers to Philpot and the flea.
Dineen’s Irish Dictionary: