The name Tara appears in both Irish and Indian cultures as a very ancient name. In India, Tara is one name used by Shiva’s wife. In Ireland, Tara is the home of the Irish kings. Located in the center of Ireland, Tara was where Irish kings were once seated and buried.
The concept of mythological importance of center, ancient beauty, and Celtic wisdom has made Tara a very popular name in America and around the world. The aura associated with the name Tara has also resulted in various famous fictional Taras, including a few notably famous examples in the 20th century and beyond.
1) Gone With the Wind. In this Margaret Mitchell book (as well as the film adaptation starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable), Tara is the name of female protagonist Scarlett O’Hara’s beloved plantation. The name Tara represents O’Hara’s affinity for her family’s heritage and points to the representation of the plantation as a determined character itself. This fictional representation of the name Tara, used here to echo an important Irish place name, resounded with the post-Great Depression public and popularized the name in America.
2) True Blood. Charlene Harris’ novels (as well as the Alan Ball TV adaptation seen on HBO) also offer another fictional Tara (portrayed by Rutina Wesley). True Blood’s Tara Thornton is a young black female living in Louisiana amidst the ‘coming out’ of vampires; she is constantly on a quest of self-discovery, desiring to be honest with herself. Referring back to the Gone With the Wind plantation, Tara openly questions the terrible and cruel irony of a black woman being named after a plantation. Tara is loyal, in-your-face, argumentative, and tough.
3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon’s famous hit television series includes a Tara of its own-this one being a witch who also happens to be a lesbian. Beginning as a shy member of a Wiccan coven, Tara Maclay (played by Amber Benson) grows in confidence over her time on the series.
In these famous examples, each Tara has very weak moments usually triggered by an innate tenderness and compassion ever-associated with the origins of the name in both Ireland and India. Even when the character is actually a plantation, Tara proves to be continually growing in determination if not power, teaching others life lessons through experience and wisdom as she learns and falls herself.
Additionally, Tara seems to represent a center, home, or familiar person or place in each of the above examples, allowing others to discover part of themselves in some way.