Mary set up the schoolhouse at Cressbrook, which was the first public school of its kind (founded prior to government schools in Queensland).
Mary was also responsible for the establishment of the first children’s hospital in Queensland (second in Australia to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne), namely the Hospital for Sick Children in Brisbane in 1878. Her legacy is still honoured with the naming of the McConnel Ward in her honour at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
Mary was a formidable force in the establishment of acceptable facilities for the nurturing of children; which were and still are irreplaceable assets to society. It is very evident that the major driving forces in Mary’s quest for quality treatment of children was her exposure to premature death of her own children largely due to the lack of facilities.
Shafston House was the McConnel Home until 1913 and in 1915 it was leased to the Crèche and Kindergarten Association as an early childhood teacher trainer centre.
Mary’s contribution to the education of youth in Queensland has been honoured in the founding and naming of the Mary McConnel School of Early Childhood.