For many of us, researching our family history can be a long and slow process. Not so for Irakli Murtskhvaladze, who has uncovered 200 relatives in a short space of time!
Irakli lives in Tbilisi, Georgia and is CEO of TBC TV, a leading television studio in Georgia. Situated at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Georgia is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, Turkey and Armenia to the south and Azerbaijan to the East.
Georgia has a population of approximately 5 million people, with 1.2 million living in Tbilisi, the capital. Although Irakli was born and lives in Tbilisi, his family name comes from the Western part of Georgia – Lechkhumi.
Irakli said that it was thanks to MyHeritage.com that he discovered that one of his friends and colleagues was a relative!
"Due to very busy schedules, it is not often the families are able to get together. When they do, it is usually for weddings or funerals. Even then, it is difficult to remember everyone. Sometimes we don’t even know that a person just beside us could be related by blood or marriage. Every day that we don’t trace our ancestry we lose it and as the oldest people die, the non-written history, sadly, goes with them."
Before MyHeritage.com, Irakli had not done much work on his family history, however he quickly traced almost 200 family members! His family comes from part of Georgia called Lechkhumi, a relatively small part of the country. Georgia has a very long history, with its first kingdom founded in 700 BC. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age and the first recorded history of the region dates back to the early medieval period.
Because of this long history, names and tribes changed a lot. The place now known as Lechkhumi was called Takveri before the 16th Century. As outlined in our story on 5 August (The Name Game) last names can often have a history of their own, and Irakli's is a good example as his last name also changed over time.
The last name was originally “Muritskhi”, meaning star in Mengrelian, a bordering region. “Vali” (also Mengrelian) means shining. The family migrated from Mingrelia to Leckhumi and added “dze” to the end, “Georgianizing” the last name. There is a village “Muri” and castle “Muri” in Leckhumi, so the name could also have come from these .
Irakli is keen to continue his search for ancestors. "The current line so far only goes back to the 19th century. He is planning a visit to mountainous region of Lechkhumi, so he can continue tracing ancestors from church records.
He has uncovered some interesting relatives, with some ancestors being Georgian horse riders. They won numerous races and tournaments in USA and Britain at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century. Due to the long history of the country, there is a strong tradition of genealogy / family history research however, it has been mostly by Royal and Aristocratic families.
The search for ancestors has had an impact on Irakli. He was astonished to find just how many of his male relatives died in wars – with nearly all in WWII. "MyHeritage.com has helped make me more of a pacifist after this discovery."
Irakli came across MyHeritage.com through an Internet link and has had a lot of success in finding out more about his family and relatives. "I find MyHeritage.com user friendly, and it doesn’t require special skills. I also find the statistics part very cool. The event notifier is also great, and revives connections / relations between our families. I think the site pretty much has it all. One thing that could be good is if all the events had separate boxes for date and place, however, this feature may already be there and I just haven't come across it it yet."
"MyHeritage.com gave me the opportunity to get to know my family better and through this, I have started to love them more than before. Lot of thanks to the team and to everybody who created this very cool site!"
We look forward to seeing how far back Irakli can trace his Georgian family history!