Kathleen Macfie, later Lady Dunpark, was the Irishwoman who charmed Edinburgh, invigorating her

adopted city with music, poetry, and a passion for conservation.

A born lateral thinker, on leaving the company she worked for in New York to get married, she refused offers of a traditional wedding present, asking simply that a chauffeur-driven limousine meet her every time she arrived back. She was 38 then, and lived until 84, visiting the Big Apple twice a year and making use of her wedding present for

46 years.

She had a natural calling as a traveller, and covered the world, choosing to see people with whom she had made contact, rather than sights.

With her husband, John, an Edinburgh lawyer, she made her home at 17 Heriot Row, once the New Town home of Robert Louis Stevenson, cheerfully enjoying the reputation of her house as a mecca for RLS scholars and pilgrims from across the world. Each year on the writer's birthday on November 13, a wreath of heather hung from the black brass-decorated front door. She maintained her passion for the author in spite of tourist pressure. ''You become used to bus parties stopping outside as early as breakfast time,'' she once explained.

Her hospitality was legendary. On one occasion she served tea and biscuits to a group of reporters and photographers gathered outside. It was November 13 and she had assumed they were there to mark the writer's anniversary only to discover the they were recording an anti-poll tax demonstration taking place in the neighbouring premises of a firm of sheriff's officers.

She loved Burns in equal measure, speaking at Burns Suppers and reciting the poet's works from memory. Appropriately at her funeral, it was My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose which was read in tribute to her by her nine-year-old grandson, Caspar.

Tall, imposing, handsome, Kathleen Macfie cut a fine figure with her auburn hair and gentle Irish inflection. She exuded an air of authority and gentle eccentricity, both of which she could unashamedly play up. Well-groomed, she loved clothes, once confessing to wearing a best suit and jewellery while polishing the brasswork outside No 17 ''because I don't want to be mistaken for my cleaning lady''.

She was born Kathleen Welsh, the eldest of five children to a farmer father and schoolteacher mother in Carnowen, County Monaghan, now the Irish Republic, and part of the historic province of Ulster. The family was solidly Presbyterian, but keenly interested in Ireland's native language, and she grew up fluent in English and Erse.

Studying Celtic languages initially at Trinity College, Dublin, she switched to domestic science in Edinburgh to take advantage of the Gaelic-

speaking network in Scotland's capital. She spoke Gaelic all her life, frequently disarming distinguished Irish visitors by addressing them in the ancient tongue. Her extensive repertoire of Irish songs in both languages was extended in the several years she was invited to Glenties in County Donegal to open the annual feis (festival).

Commissioned into the Women's Auxiliary Air Force at the outbreak of the Second World War, she trained at Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. The irony of being posted to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire as one of hundreds involved in the Enigma code-breaking project was not lost on her, for her initial application to join the Women's Royal Naval Service had been turned down because her place of birth was in neutral Ireland.

The war brought her in touch with new friends in the United States, particularly in Washington and New York, and, after the war, she lived and worked in New York until returning to Edinburgh for a short holiday in 1957. There she met Jack Macfie, a rising lawyer in a notable practice. Within the year they were married in New York.

Kathleen contributed to Edinburgh from the start, raising money for local charities, becoming involved in politics, and engaging in care for the city she loved. She championed the heritage of Edinburgh, and the wider work of the National Trust for Scotland, particularly in the years when Jamie (later Sir Jamie) Stormonth Darling was director.

She organised the social programme of the 1970 international conference on Georgian Edinburgh and prodded and pushed the issue of conservation in her own patch of the New Town.

From 1974 to 1984, she served as a Conservative city councillor, briefly with the former Edinburgh Corporation, which was being wound up, and then with its successor, the district council. The Conservatives controlled the authority until 1984 and, as Councillor Kathy Macfie, she represented first the Broughton and then Corstorphine areas.

Remembered by her contemporaries there as ''a colourful character'', and full of Irish charm, she was also renowned for bicycling up and down the Mound from her home in the New Town to the city chambers. When she joined the board of Radio Forth, she led the way in championing the station's annual Help A Child appeal, ensuring that funds were distributed locally. For her work with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, she was made a college regent. She attracted benefactions, and made her home available in social programmes for visitors to surgical conferences. This was the atmosphere in which she as a natural party hostess thrived. Widowed in 1980, she remarried in 1985. Her new husband, Lord Dunpark (the law lord Alastair Johnston), was a long-time family friend.

She was predeceased by her second husband in 1991, and is survived by her son John, and grandchildren, Max, Caspar, Victoria, and Felix.

Lady Dunpark (Kathleen Johnston, previously Macfie, nee Welsh); born January 3,1919, died August 14, 2003.