McAleese, Daniel (1833–1900), journalist, poet, newspaper proprietor, and politician, was born in Randalstown, Co. Antrim, the son of Daniel McAleese, a shoemaker. He was educated at the local national school, and in his teens began to work as a clerk for the Northern Counties Railway. He soon lost this job, reputedly because of his nationalist political beliefs, and entered his father's shoemaking business. Later he moved to Glasgow, where he served as secretary of the Shoemaker's Trade Association for several years. He married there in 1853 before returning to Ireland, where he settled in Hercules Street, Belfast.
In the early 1850s McAleese began to publish poetry in the Nation under the pseudonyms ‘Ossian’, ‘Ruadh’ and ‘M. D.’. His verse also appeared in the Glasgow Free Press, the short-lived nationalist Tipperary Leader (c.1855–6), and the Dundalk Democrat, but it was in journalism that he made his career. He attended the local catholic institute in Belfast, where his political and literary knowledge attracted the attention of the newspaper editor Andrew McKenna, who engaged him on the staff of the Ulster Observer, a liberal, catholic, nationalist paper founded in 1862. Initially employed as a print reader, and later as a journalist, McAleese was eventually promoted to the post of sub-editor. He followed McKenna to the Northern Star (February 1868), but soon afterwards defected to the editorial staff of the Ulster Examiner, a rival paper launched in March 1868 by Bishop Patrick Dorrian (qv). He remained with this paper for several years, encountering tribulation in April 1873 when his censure of Judge James Anthony Lawson's (qv) sentencing in the wake of the Belfast riots resulted in his being charged with contempt of court. He was fined £250, and while serving a sentence of four month's imprisonment lost the editorship of the Examiner to Edward J. Byrne (qv). McAleese consequently started his own paper, the Vindicator, followed by the Evening Citizen, both of which proved short-lived.
After these setbacks McAleese moved to Monaghan and in February 1876 launched the People's Advocate, a cheap, nationalist weekly sympathetic to catholic interests. He became an influential figure in local politics and played a significant role in the tenant right, land league and home rule movements, but his attempts to secure a home-rule nomination for a parliamentary seat in 1885 were thwarted by James Donnelly, bishop of Clogher (1864–93). Frustrated by this failure, he accepted an offer from Edmund Dwyer Gray (qv) to edit the Belfast Morning News (1885–6), but later returned to his post on the Advocate. In 1895 he was elected as an anti-Parnellite MP for North Monaghan, and five years later again as a nationalist. During his years in Westminster he vigorously campaigned against the power to imprison for contempt of court. In 1898 McAleese (who supported the clericalist Healyite faction) attracted attention by his outspoken support for Spain in the Spanish–American war. Pro-American colleagues nicknamed him ‘Don McAleese’ and he engaged in a public controversy with Michael Davitt (qv) on the subject.
McAleese died 1 December 1900 at his home, Holly Lodge, Monaghan; a collection of his verse was later published in Monaghan (c.1906). He had three sons and two daughters, all of whom also became involved in working on his papers. His son Charles (d. 1904) took over the running of the Advocate, which lasted until 1907.